Polling on abortion reveals the complexities of the American psyche. On the one hand, the majority of Americans feel that abortion is morally wrong. Yet, at the same time, the majority of Americans poll in support of Roe v. Wade, which made abortion a legal procedure nationwide.
According to polling done over the past month by Gallup, 51 percent of Americans say that abortion is “morally wrong.” Yet, according to a current poll done by Quinnipiac University, 63 percent of Americans support Roe v. Wade.
Support of Roe v. Wade, however, is by no means unequivocal. Further polling by Gallup shows support for legal abortion “under any circumstances” at only 23 percent. The majority of those who support abortion feel it should be legal “only in a few circumstances.”
What this polling data tells me is that most Americans are not supportive of the spirit of Roe v. Wade. The legalization of abortion under this decision was under the rationale of a principle _ a so-called “right to privacy.” However, if most Americans agreed that legal abortion emerges as result of a fundamental right to do it, they would not respond in polls saying that it is immoral and should be legal “only in a few circumstances.”
It’s also sharp and clear from the Gallup poll that Americans are not happy about the moral state of our country. Only 19 percent feel that the current state of moral values in the country is “excellent/good”, and 39 percent see it as “poor.” With regard to the direction of our state of morals, 16 percent responded that things are “getting better” and 77 percent responded that things are getting worse.
I think the group of so-called moderate senators who cut the recent deal to defuse the nuclear device, which would have formally purged the Senate of the filibuster option on confirmation of judges, should pay attention to this information. That is, they should pay attention if they care about their political future.
It is crystal clear that Americans are unhappy and concerned with the moral state of affairs of our country. The central aspect of that concern, as it concerns our judiciary, is legal abortion, as defined by Roe v. Wade. This is what this fight over judge appointments is about.
The fact that most of our citizens see abortion as immoral, and that support for legal abortion is highly qualified, shows that there is underlying discomfort nationwide with today’s legal regime governing abortion. Americans want change.
These sentiments were expressed when we elected a conservative Republican president and a Republican congress.
Yet a handful of senators who call themselves moderates want to thwart the leadership of the president and mute the sentiments of the American electorate. On the verge of losing the filibuster tool to prevent straightforward up or down votes to confirm judges, these handful of so-called moderates went into the backroom and came up with a band-aid that will allow a few votes, but leaves the core problem in place. As happens too often today, our politicians use every opportunity to avoid leadership and responsibility.
The Roe v. Wade decision was allegedly made in the spirit of American freedom. However, time has shown that this was mistaken and ill advised. The president is showing needed leadership in the judges he is nominating. We need to make clear that these handful of obstructionist senators are not moderates but elitists and feel that they know better than our president and our voters what America needs.
Americans are both a moral people and a freedom loving people. George Washington, in his famous farewell address, said that being a moral people is a necessary condition for being a free people. At times, when it appears that moral principle impinges on our freedom, our tendency is to yield to the latter. The test of time, however, reveals whether such concessions in what appear to be in the direction of freedom really, to the point of Washington, make us less free.
We learned that lesson with slavery. We became a greater and freer people by banning it.
Americans know today that Roe v. Wade has pushed that envelope. We live daily with wholesale abuse of human life that devalues America and Americans. This loss of value and perspective has weakened us and made us less free. Far and away the worse toll is taken in the most vulnerable community, the African American community, where black women are three times more likely to have an abortion than their white counterparts.
Our nation is entering a new era of global challenge and competition. We need to be physically and morally strong to meet these challenges. Americans know what needs to be done. Let’s not allow a handful of senators, who pretend to be working in our interest, keep us from the challenges we need to meet.
(Star Parker is author of “Uncle Sam’s Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America’s Poor and What We Can Do about It” and president of CURE, Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education, www.urbancure.org.)