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Pro-lifers say major survey on abortion attitudes is skewed

The survey, released last week by the Pew Forum, has attracted complaints of bias and lack of clarity.

  • Michelle Bauman
  • United States
  • January 21, 2013
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A U.S. pro-life leader says a new study showing alleged support for legalized abortion among Americans is in fact exaggerated and unclear.



Kristan Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life of America, told CNA that she was “outraged” by the “horrible” wording in the survey, which led to misleading results about the views of Americans.



On Jan. 16, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released a report about American attitudes on abortion after 40 years of its legalization throughout the country.



The report claimed that 63 percent of Americans do not want to see the Supreme Court completely overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationally.

However, the study has drawn criticism for its wording. Before being asked about whether the decision should be reversed, survey participants were told, “In 1973 the Roe versus Wade decision established a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, at least in the first three months of pregnancy.”



Hawkins explained that the question fails to acknowledge Doe v. Bolton, which was decided by the Supreme Court alongside the Roe case and effectively legalized abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy.



This wording, Hawkins said, certainly skewed the results of the survey from showing people’s complete views, as other studies have shown that “the vast majority of people” are opposed to abortion in the second and third trimester, even if they accept it in the first trimester.



In addition, she observed, the Pew survey asked people whether they would like to see the court “completely overturn” its Roe v. Wade decision or not.



She explained that giving only these two options fails to recognize the reality – shown time and again by other studies – that the majority of the country is in the “mushy middle,” somewhere between favoring a complete ban of abortion and completely accepting it.

While the Pew survey found that the majority of Americans did not want Roe v. Wade to be “completely” overturned, it also revealed that a plurality – 47 percent – believe that abortion is morally wrong, compared to just 13 percent who think it is morally acceptable.



This means that many people believe that abortion is morally wrong but do not think that Roe v. Wade should be overturned, Hawkins observed.

She attributed this discrepancy to a general culture of relativism in which people are taught that there is no objective right or wrong and that they should not judge the actions of anyone else.

She noted that when asked about the morality of abortion, respondents could say that they believed it to be morally acceptable or morally wrong, but they were also given a third option of saying that they did not believe abortion was a moral issue. Twenty-seven percent chose this response.



Hawkins said that this option does not make sense, because an action is either morally acceptable or it is not.

Full Story: Pew survey on abortion attitudes criticized as misleading

Source: Catholic News Agency

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