Seven in 10 Americans believe Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court abortion-rights ruling, should stand, according to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. But when it comes down to the actual taking of a life, nearly the same percentage of respondents said some choices just can’t be justified.
While pro-abortion advocates and many news outlets like to report on the responders with strong opinions—31 percent of those polled said abortion should always be legal, while 9 percent believed it should be illegal without exception—the majority of Americans hold a more nuanced view.
According to the poll, 23 percent of Americans thought abortion should be legal most of the time, but with some exceptions, while 35 percent felt it should be illegal except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the mother's life, which only proves, writes Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute, that most Americans are moderates when it comes to abortion.
“Perhaps Bill Clinton encapsulated public opinion on the issue best when he said he wanted abortion to be safe, legal, and rare,” Bowman said.
In the meantime, thousands of lives hang in the balance each day because of the lukewarm, nuanced, “I could go either way” attitude the majority of Americans have, pressuring both pro-abortion and pro-life advocates to rethink their approach.
For instance, according to The Wall Street Journal, instead of seeking a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade, many pro-life groups now focus on the issues of abortion that most Americans question, including restricting late-term procedures or those done because of the baby’s sex.
Abortion rights advocates have started to emphasize women’s privacy, instead of focusing on broader rights, and frame having an abortion as a “decision” rather than a “choice.”