Five separate polls released recently reveal that while Americans are still generally pro-choice, they can no longer deny that an unborn baby is a person. Each poll shows support from either a plurality or majority of Americans for a limit on abortion after 20 weeks, commonly referred to as the point at which an unborn baby can feel pain. The Susan B. Anthony List told me the polls are exciting evidence of “a lot of momentum across the country” for the pro-life movement.
In the most recent poll, by Quinnipiac University, 55 percent of all respondents supported banning abortion after 20 weeks. The ban’s strongest support came from women. Only 2 percent of women respondents said they supported abortion up to birth.
The poll evidence stands in contrast to claims made by Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis and other pro-abortion activists. Davis, who has rocketed to national pro-choice stardom for filibustering a 20-week abortion ban that eventually passed, said she represented the beliefs of women across the U.S., giving voice to opinions they could not express themselves. But the polls show a majority of women don’t share Davis’ views.
Pro-life groups are hopeful the documented shift in public opinion could lead to more legislation limiting abortion after 20 weeks. So far, 12 states have 20-week abortion bans. Pro-choice groups have threatened legal action in every case. But state legislators say they are expressing the will of the people, a position the polls help solidify.
One key driver in the changing public opinion is increased awareness of the development of unborn babies. “The public rightly gets deeply upset thinking that pain-capable unborn children will be pulled apart … she can experience nightmarish levels of pain when the abortionist cuts into her,” said Dave Andrusko of the National Right to Life. “To borrow from prior Supreme Court decisions, ought not the state to have a ‘compelling interest’ in what happens to an unborn child capable of pain?”
Andrusko also believes as more people think about “commonsense limitations” on abortion they will say, “Hey, I agree with that!”
“That explains why pro-abortion Democrats fight so furiously to keep these specific limitations from even being discussed,” he said. “Passage of pro-life laws could become habit forming.”
The Susan B. Anthony List said the next challenge is passing a bill against late term abortion in the U.S. Senate. A bill similar to the one passed in Texas succeeded in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, but faces much more opposition in the Senate. President Barack Obama also is likely to veto any abortion restrictions that make it to his desk.