The results of a Washington Post-ABC News poll released on November 16 indicate that 60% of Americans think the U.S. Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade. Americans should be appalled by these results.
They mean either 60% of Americans believe it is morally permissible for a child to be aborted right up until the moment of birth (a position that, though horrifying, is consistent with support for early abortion), or 60% of Americans still have no idea what Roeactually does — even though the decision was handed down nearly 50 years ago.
Given the discrepancy between the Post/ABC poll and years of Gallup polling (which, as of 2021, indicates that only 32% of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all circumstances), the issue seems to be with the level of education people have on the abortion issue. The vast majority of Americans do not realize that Roe not only legalized abortion but made elective abortion through all nine months of pregnancy the default law in every state, overturning nearly every state’s abortion law in the process.
Lack of information being the culprit for these abysmal poll numbers might come as a relief to some — but it shouldn’t. And if it does, the issue, once again, is with education. Modern science points to the fact that a newborn child is the same child she was moments before birth. A child moments before birth is the same child she was at 20 weeks gestation. A child at 20 weeks gestation is the same child she was at the moment of fertilization.
Advances in science show that all of a person’s hereditary attributes (including sex, hair and eye color and even personality traits) are present in that person’s DNA from the moment of conception. This means that abortions at five weeks, 10 weeks, 20 weeks and 40 weeks all carry out the same gruesome task — ending the life of a unique, unrepeatable human being.
Some likely think that the Supreme Court justices should take the findings of the Post/ABC public opinion poll into consideration when deciding the upcoming case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which could overturn Roe v. Wade. This points to yet another area in which Americans’ education is lacking — the role of the Supreme Court.
While public opinion is vitally important to America’s legislative process, the executively appointed Supreme Court justices are not meant to rule based on public opinion. Instead, the members of the Court take an oath to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution. This means that in Dobbs, it is their job to determine if the framework of the Constitution includes the right to abortion. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.
As the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted, the court of public opinion is the state legislature. Like Americans saw in the recent Virginia election, it is state legislators who are voted in and out of office based on the preferences of the people they are elected to represent. Supreme Court justices, on the other hand, are appointed for life. This is to prevent justices from bowing to the whims of the majority.
These two branches of government were intentionally formed this way as part of a delicate balancing act to both allow the changing views of the American people to impact legislation and maintain the legal precepts essential to the foundations of American society.
If the Court rules as they should in Dobbs, the justices will conclude that the right to an abortion does not exist in the Constitution. If this happens, the question of the legality of abortion will most likely return to the states. While this is the most likely outcome of a pro-life ruling in Dobbs, a person’s right to life should not be contingent upon majority vote. Sadly, the Post/ABC public opinion poll should be a sign to pro-lifers that the work to educate the public and protect the most vulnerable is far from complete.
Our first step must be recognizing that God, the author of life, must be at the center of our efforts to defend life. And so, we hope you will join us on November 28 at 7:00 CT as we join with pro-lifers around the country to pray for an end to abortion. We hope you will join us, either in person or via livestream. Please visit PrayTogetherForLife.com for more information.
Originally published at the Family Research Council.
Mary Szoch serves as the Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council. In this position, Mary researches, writes, and coordinates collaborative efforts with other pro-life advocates on policies surrounding life and human dignity.