Media May Be Distorting Public Support for Abortion

Pro-life supporters argue that the media is exaggerating public support for abortion, asserting that recent polls showing support are isolated surveys and do not reveal the steady trend that shows the public favor more restrictions on abortions.

More often than not, the media fails to explain to viewers that public opinion polls aren't just inconsistent, they're misleading, too.

According to National Right to Life (NRL), among the 1,502 people who answered the Pew Research Center's January poll questions about Roe. v. Wade: "Only 62 percent knew it dealt with abortion."

Seventeen percent guessed incorrectly and 20 percent didn't know what the case was about; while 7 percent believe it's about school desegregation, and 5 percent think it's about the death penalty or environmental protection.

The Pew Research Center's poll report, titled: "Roe v. Wade at 40: Most Oppose Overturning Abortion Decision," also reveals that among those who are younger than 30, only 44 percent know that the case was about abortion; while 16 percent said it dealt with school desegregation, and 41 percent either responded that it dealt with another issue (the death penalty or the environment), or answered that they simply don't know.

Among those who answered the Pew Research Center's question about whether it's morally acceptable to have an abortion, 47 percent said it is morally wrong to have an abortion, while just 13 percent said that it is morally acceptable; and 27 percent responded that abortion is not a moral issue, and 9 percent said that it depends on the situation.

If only 62 percent of those polled by the Pew Research Center know that Roe v. Wade is about abortion, then polls cited by news organizations such as MSNBC, CNN and Fox News, or even the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post are only telling half the story.

For instance, First Things published an article last week, titled "Little Change in Abortion Attitudes," that exposes the media's bias when reporting polls that supposedly show that an increasing number of Americans support abortion.

In the article, Michael New said: "…a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll covered in the Washington Post and elsewhere suggested that 70 percent of Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade."

One concern over the poll's claim that 70 percent of Americans are opposed to overturning Roe v. Wade is the number of people included in the poll results who don't actually know that the landmark case is about abortion.

"I blame the grownups in the room and the media for not clearly laying out what a historic moment Roe v. Wade was for our country and the true breadth of the pro-life movement," said Penny Nance, president and CEO for Concerned Women for America, to The Christian Post. "It is up to parents and educators to make sure our children understand the true significance of Roe v. Wade."

"When we see things like the March for Life drawing out hundreds of thousands of people in the middle of January to march in remembrance of the lives lost to abortion, and the media practically ignoring it, I think we, as a nation, have failed to present both sides of the discussion, and accurately display public opinion on the issue," Nance said.

In his analysis, New added that: "To seriously analyze fluctuations in public opinion on abortion, one needs to consider responses to the same question, preferably asked by the same survey research firm, over a period of time," noting that the wording of poll questions pertaining to Roe v. Wade are not consistent year after year, and that random polling often results in inaccurate outcomes that are cited as fact by the media.

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