Lauren Moye, FISM News
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision that legalized elective abortions across all fifty states, despite the majority of these states having laws that criminalized or restricted this procedure. States retained the power to legislate abortions in the second or third trimester after the age of viability. This is now estimated to be around 23 or 24 weeks, which means that Roe vs. Wade stands in stark contrast to the number of Americans who support abortion bans before this time.
A recently leaked Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe vs. Wade gained national attention and the condemnation of abortion supporters. The case that sparked a revisit of the 1973 decision is over Mississippi’s law that would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. A recent Fox News poll found that 54% of respondents were actually in favor of this law being passed despite its conflict with the original Supreme Court decision. This poll has a +/- error margin of 3%.
Since the controversial decision of Roe vs. Wade, improvements in ultrasound technology and preemie care as well as a better understanding of embryology have impacted the public’s opinion regarding abortion. For example, an Alabama premature birth at 21 weeks and 1 day set a new record for viability which calls into question the wisdom of allowing abortions even later in a baby’s development.
Additionally, baby development guides describe that the average unborn child is roughly 6.5 inches long and weighs around 4 oz at the fifteenth week of pregnancy. The child’s ears are almost developed enough to hear sounds even outside the womb and can move all limbs, stretch, and even go through the motion of breathing. In short, the child looks and behaves like a human being which is a far cry from being the clump of cells abortion proponents often tout.
Abortion polling statistics sometimes stand in contradiction to other pollsters, further complicating a contentious topic and at times exposing internal contradictions in the voters. Despite the Fox News poll showing strong support for the Mississippi law, other polls show even stronger support for maintaining Roe vs. Wade. Another recent poll conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post found that 60% of Americans want the court decision upheld compared to 27% who would prefer to see it overruled.
The two polls also show a wide discrepancy in support for “heartbeat laws” like the Texas bill that bans abortions except in certain cases after fetal cardiac activity can be detected. This usually occurs around 6 weeks. While the Fox poll found that 50% of respondents favored an abortion ban at this point, the ABC poll showed 65% opposition to it.
Both polls used third-party companies to randomly select people. Stats were collected via telephone calls.
The Supreme Court appears poised to strike down Roe vs. Wade, which would give power back to the states to restrict abortion based on their individual voters’ interests.