Lead headline on yesterday’s New York Times front page: “Cuomo bucks tide with bill to ease abortion limits.” Wow, what a gutsy New York governor: In a pro-abortion state, Andrew C. wants a state law guaranteeing abortion legality at any time up to birth when a woman’s health is at stake. Now he can get more contributions from abortionists for a possible 2016 presidential run.
The gambit, though, may end up giving pro-lifers a great opportunity. The Times reported accurately that Cuomo wants a new law to mirror federal court rulings that “allow late-term abortions to protect a woman’s health, even if her life is not in jeopardy.” That’s news to many people who think Roe v. Wade permits abortion only during the first trimester. (Here’s what the Supreme Court says: Third-trimester abortions are defensible to protect a woman’s health, and that includes “all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age—relevant to the well-being of the patient.”)
Because lots of people don’t know how all-encompassing that definition is, a December poll showed a majority of Americans (53 percent) saying the Supreme Court should not overturn Roe v. Wade. But when Gallup probed, it found much less support for the contents of Roe. Its polling question: “Do you think abortions should be legal under any circumstances, legal only under certain circumstances, or illegal in all circumstances?” The responses: Only 28 percent would allow abortion under any circumstance (the Roe standard), 52 percent would allow abortion only under certain circumstances, and 18 percent would outlaw all abortions.
Gallup pushed a little more, asking members of the 52 percent this question: “Do you think abortion should be legal in most circumstances or only in a few circumstances?” Three/fourths of them believed abortion should be legal only in a few circumstances. Do the math: Well over half of Americans want restrictions that Roe does not permit.
Pro-lifers are on the defensive when we have to defend our position on the hard cases, like rape, or explain why some contraceptives probably cause very early abortions. We still need to fight for all human life, but now New York pro-lifers can put pro-aborts on the defensive. Tell us, Gov. Cuomo, why abortion should be legal in the seventh, eighth, and ninth months of pregnancy? Explain exactly what allowing abortions because of emotional health means?
People say they do not want Roe v. Wade (and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton) overturned, but they also don’t support the abortion-on-demand policy those rulings mandate. Here’s a real opportunity for education. New York liberals, bring it on!