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Topic: pro-life

Akin’s Crime Against Pro-Lifers

So Todd Akin, the senatorial candidate in Missouri, has made a commercial apologizing for his remarks on rape and pregnancy on Sunday. “Rape is an evil act,” he says. “I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize. As the father of two daughters, I want tough justice for predators. I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault. I pray for them. The fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy. The truth is, rape has many victims. The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness.”

One has reason to think this apology is disingenuous. For one thing, it’s doubtful he would have issued it had the video of him discoursing on “legitimate rape” and the mystical ability of a woman’s body to repel a rapist’s seed not become a subject of controversy. For another, as always with politicians, what tells is the phrasing. “The mistake was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold” places the blame for his error on “the words,” as though the words were somehow separate from him. Whereas “the heart I hold” is intrinsic to him, and therefore to be taken more seriously  (and by the way, who exactly “holds” a heart?).

What strikes me, though, is the offense Todd Akin has given—not just to victims of rape, but to his fellow pro-lifers. The most difficult moral issue when it comes to abortion comes with cases of pregnancy due to rape and incest. (These are, relative to all live births, extraordinarily small in number.) The pregnancy in such circumstances is not only unwanted but the result of a barbaric and traumatic criminal attack. And yet consistent pro-lifers argue such pregnancies should not be ended by abortion. This is usually held up as an example of their fanaticism, or their cruelty, or their desire to punish women, or some other charge.

In fact, though, it is precisely when it comes to these most difficult cases that the underlying philosophy of the pro-life movement finds its moral strength. They argue that the unborn possess an independent right to life, that one would and should not do to them in the womb what would never be done to them one second after they were born alive. Wanted or unwanted, conceived in love or in violence, they are ensouled and they are people.

This is not a conviction I share, but it is a conviction for which I have enormous respect. Now comes along Todd Akin, and he has good news! No need to worry about those pesky hard cases, that pregnancy-by-rape stuff! Don’t bother yourself over that! He talked to a doctor, and the doctor said when a woman is legitimately raped, her body will act in ways to prevent that pregnancy from happening! So if there’s a pregnancy by rape, you can be pretty sure it’s not really rape, but something less…legitimate.

In one offhand stroke, then, Todd Akin not only offended all thinking people with his nonsense bilge—he was also selling snake oil to his own comrades in the pro-life battle. For that they should despise him.

So Todd Akin, the senatorial candidate in Missouri, has made a commercial apologizing for his remarks on rape and pregnancy on Sunday. “Rape is an evil act,” he says. “I used the wrong words in the wrong way and for that I apologize. As the father of two daughters, I want tough justice for predators. I have a compassionate heart for the victims of sexual assault. I pray for them. The fact is, rape can lead to pregnancy. The truth is, rape has many victims. The mistake I made was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold. I ask for your forgiveness.”

One has reason to think this apology is disingenuous. For one thing, it’s doubtful he would have issued it had the video of him discoursing on “legitimate rape” and the mystical ability of a woman’s body to repel a rapist’s seed not become a subject of controversy. For another, as always with politicians, what tells is the phrasing. “The mistake was in the words I said, not in the heart I hold” places the blame for his error on “the words,” as though the words were somehow separate from him. Whereas “the heart I hold” is intrinsic to him, and therefore to be taken more seriously  (and by the way, who exactly “holds” a heart?).

What strikes me, though, is the offense Todd Akin has given—not just to victims of rape, but to his fellow pro-lifers. The most difficult moral issue when it comes to abortion comes with cases of pregnancy due to rape and incest. (These are, relative to all live births, extraordinarily small in number.) The pregnancy in such circumstances is not only unwanted but the result of a barbaric and traumatic criminal attack. And yet consistent pro-lifers argue such pregnancies should not be ended by abortion. This is usually held up as an example of their fanaticism, or their cruelty, or their desire to punish women, or some other charge.

In fact, though, it is precisely when it comes to these most difficult cases that the underlying philosophy of the pro-life movement finds its moral strength. They argue that the unborn possess an independent right to life, that one would and should not do to them in the womb what would never be done to them one second after they were born alive. Wanted or unwanted, conceived in love or in violence, they are ensouled and they are people.

This is not a conviction I share, but it is a conviction for which I have enormous respect. Now comes along Todd Akin, and he has good news! No need to worry about those pesky hard cases, that pregnancy-by-rape stuff! Don’t bother yourself over that! He talked to a doctor, and the doctor said when a woman is legitimately raped, her body will act in ways to prevent that pregnancy from happening! So if there’s a pregnancy by rape, you can be pretty sure it’s not really rape, but something less…legitimate.

In one offhand stroke, then, Todd Akin not only offended all thinking people with his nonsense bilge—he was also selling snake oil to his own comrades in the pro-life battle. For that they should despise him.

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Planned Parenthood’s War on Girls

In a new James O’Keefe-style sting operation on Planned Parenthood, the pro-life organization Live Action set out to prove, and succeeded in doing so, that Planned Parenthood will help any woman abort their fetus for any reason, even the most reprehensible. In previous stings, Live Action caught Planned Parenthood employees accepting donations in order to reduce the number of African Americans born in the United States. This time around, they appear to show that not only will they help a woman abort at the last possible week in order to achieve the desired sex of the baby, but they’ll also give tips on how to manipulate Medicaid in order to do so.

Planned Parenthood, which counts on taxpayer dollars to fill one third of its operating budget, is no stranger to controversy about its questionable ethics and has again refused to apologize for them. The Huffington Post reports: 

This spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Federation of America also told The Huffington Post that the organization condemns seeking abortions on the basis of gender, but its policy is to provide “high quality, confidential, nonjudgmental care to all who come into” its health centers. That means that no Planned Parenthood clinic will deny a woman an abortion based on her reasons for wanting one, except in those states that explicitly prohibit sex-selective abortions (Arizona, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Illinois).
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In a new James O’Keefe-style sting operation on Planned Parenthood, the pro-life organization Live Action set out to prove, and succeeded in doing so, that Planned Parenthood will help any woman abort their fetus for any reason, even the most reprehensible. In previous stings, Live Action caught Planned Parenthood employees accepting donations in order to reduce the number of African Americans born in the United States. This time around, they appear to show that not only will they help a woman abort at the last possible week in order to achieve the desired sex of the baby, but they’ll also give tips on how to manipulate Medicaid in order to do so.

Planned Parenthood, which counts on taxpayer dollars to fill one third of its operating budget, is no stranger to controversy about its questionable ethics and has again refused to apologize for them. The Huffington Post reports: 

This spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Federation of America also told The Huffington Post that the organization condemns seeking abortions on the basis of gender, but its policy is to provide “high quality, confidential, nonjudgmental care to all who come into” its health centers. That means that no Planned Parenthood clinic will deny a woman an abortion based on her reasons for wanting one, except in those states that explicitly prohibit sex-selective abortions (Arizona, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Illinois).

In the same statement Planned Parenthood admits, “Within three days of this patient interaction, the staff member’s employment was ended and all staff members at this affiliate were immediately scheduled for retraining in managing unusual patient encounters.” They also claim that Live Action’s videos were edited and that a hoax was perpetrated on the Austin, Texas office. While the patient visit was indeed a “hoax” – the woman does not appear to be pregnant nor was she seeking a sex-selective abortion, Live Action has posted the entire transcript (albeit no full video) in an effort to quell claims the video was in any way altered. If the video was edited and the visit was a hoax as Planned Parenthood attests, why was the staff member immediately fired? While the organization’s supporters are trying to treat this incident as a provocation, the group still has a lot of explaining to do about its practices.

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There’s More to the “Flip-Flopper” Label

In March 2010, Jim Geraghty published what was, to that point, “The Complete List of Obama Statement Expiration Dates.” It listed about 25 or so promises the president broke in his first year in office, plus an addendum of about 20 promises that “expired” during the campaign. In the two years since, there have been more, which Geraghty has documented as well. And the most recent of these has also become the most famous: President Obama’s self-proclaimed “evolution” on the issue of gay marriage.

Unlike his opponent, however, the media has resolutely refused to trifle the president with the appropriate label: the president is quite clearly a “flip-flopper.” Why the double standard? There is more to it than the obvious media bias.

As the Washington Post notes in an interesting article on the subject (please ignore the Post’s unforgivable headline), since John Kerry and, to a lesser extent, Al Gore, were cast as craven opportunists, it is not enough that Romney is a Republican and Obama a Democrat. But those party tags do actually factor into it, the article finds, though not simply because of the visible press bias. The article describes a new study based on an experiment testing voters’ reactions to flip-floppery, in which they are asked to react to one political type who promises to change his positions as the people do, and the other who promises to stay true to his principles:

These candidates represent a classic argument in political philosophy between the view of John Stuart Mill, the British philosopher who said that democratically elected officials should reflect constituents’ views, and that of Edmund Burke, the Irish-born political thinker who argued that we elect representatives with strong values so they will follow their principles.

Voters who preferred Candidate B — Burke’s view — responded much more negatively to candidates who changed their minds on issues, said Barker, director-designate of the Institute for Social Research at California State University at Sacramento. Those voters generally prefer conservative Republicans and are more likely to rely on religious faith to guide their political choices.

Voters who preferred Candidate A — Mill’s view — were much more accepting of candidates who flipped on issues. These voters, mostly drawn to more liberal, Democratic candidates, tend to be more secular and believe that as the people’s views shift, so should their leaders’.

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In March 2010, Jim Geraghty published what was, to that point, “The Complete List of Obama Statement Expiration Dates.” It listed about 25 or so promises the president broke in his first year in office, plus an addendum of about 20 promises that “expired” during the campaign. In the two years since, there have been more, which Geraghty has documented as well. And the most recent of these has also become the most famous: President Obama’s self-proclaimed “evolution” on the issue of gay marriage.

Unlike his opponent, however, the media has resolutely refused to trifle the president with the appropriate label: the president is quite clearly a “flip-flopper.” Why the double standard? There is more to it than the obvious media bias.

As the Washington Post notes in an interesting article on the subject (please ignore the Post’s unforgivable headline), since John Kerry and, to a lesser extent, Al Gore, were cast as craven opportunists, it is not enough that Romney is a Republican and Obama a Democrat. But those party tags do actually factor into it, the article finds, though not simply because of the visible press bias. The article describes a new study based on an experiment testing voters’ reactions to flip-floppery, in which they are asked to react to one political type who promises to change his positions as the people do, and the other who promises to stay true to his principles:

These candidates represent a classic argument in political philosophy between the view of John Stuart Mill, the British philosopher who said that democratically elected officials should reflect constituents’ views, and that of Edmund Burke, the Irish-born political thinker who argued that we elect representatives with strong values so they will follow their principles.

Voters who preferred Candidate B — Burke’s view — responded much more negatively to candidates who changed their minds on issues, said Barker, director-designate of the Institute for Social Research at California State University at Sacramento. Those voters generally prefer conservative Republicans and are more likely to rely on religious faith to guide their political choices.

Voters who preferred Candidate A — Mill’s view — were much more accepting of candidates who flipped on issues. These voters, mostly drawn to more liberal, Democratic candidates, tend to be more secular and believe that as the people’s views shift, so should their leaders’.

That conservatives were more drawn to a Burkean philosophy on governing isn’t too surprising. Far more interesting is the finding that liberals are much less likely to object to flip-flopping in the first place.

This helps explain why someone like John Kerry–a starkly unlikable figure for whom the label “flip-flopper” seemed particularly apt–could win the Democratic nomination despite all the obvious red flags of his candidacy. It also helps explain why Mitt Romney had such difficulty winning the Republican nomination even though he had a four-year head start and aside from Rick Perry, who possessed a strong record but who stumbled badly in the debates, the path seemed clear for Romney. He struggled not against other strong candidacies but the popular composite candidate known as Not Romney.

It is conservatives, therefore, who branded Romney a flip-flopper long before he had the chance to face John Kerry’s fate of being so labeled during the general election. The right, not nearly so tolerant of unprincipled politicians as the left, immediately flagged what seemed like Romney’s politics of convenience.

The other key takeaway from this is that it surely depends on which issues a candidate flip-flops. The Post article, to emphasize this, begins with Abraham Lincoln’s flip-flop on federal intervention to free slaves. But here is how the Post frames the other element in choosing the “right” issue on which to evolve:

In the end, voters are especially willing to accept a shift in politicians’ positions “if it’s an issue where the public has evolved in its own thinking,” Garin said.

With this in mind, it’s useful to look at two of the candidates’ more controversial changes. Obama’s switch on gay marriage, polls indicate, show him to be swimming with the tide. The public on the whole may not be overwhelmingly in favor of gay marriage, but the trend is toward wider acceptance. It is logical to expect those who have undergone similar “evolutions” on the policy to give the president the benefit of the doubt here.

Romney’s more controversial change, however, is on abortion. It’s true that he has embraced the pro-life position, but voters–especially those on the right–remain skeptical. As such, he may be swimming with the tide–self-identified pro-life voters are increasing, while pro-choice voters are decreasing–but conservative doubt prevents him from fully capitalizing on the switch.

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Truth About Abortion?

Reading about the movement toward some version of a pro-life view that Alana, Jonathan and Pete discussed last week, it struck me that there’s such a squishy amorphous center, with the only clear positions on the issue at the fringes.

It seems to me that the general vagueness can be put down to the fact that even after four decades of debate, we still haven’t given ourselves really honest answers to the stark questions surrounding abortion. And I’m not talking about the constitutional issues.

Does life begin at conception? If life doesn’t begin at conception, when does it begin, and what do we mean by “life” anyway? Is it a “fetus” in there, or a baby human being?  Is it painful for the “fetus” to be chopped up and vacuumed out?

The fact is, these aren’t difficult questions to answer.

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Reading about the movement toward some version of a pro-life view that Alana, Jonathan and Pete discussed last week, it struck me that there’s such a squishy amorphous center, with the only clear positions on the issue at the fringes.

It seems to me that the general vagueness can be put down to the fact that even after four decades of debate, we still haven’t given ourselves really honest answers to the stark questions surrounding abortion. And I’m not talking about the constitutional issues.

Does life begin at conception? If life doesn’t begin at conception, when does it begin, and what do we mean by “life” anyway? Is it a “fetus” in there, or a baby human being?  Is it painful for the “fetus” to be chopped up and vacuumed out?

The fact is, these aren’t difficult questions to answer.

Of course life begins at conception.  That’s so obvious that claiming anything else is an absurdity. If it isn’t life that’s conceived when sperm meets egg, then what the hell is it?

What is life, and when does a baby become a baby? Well, maybe we can’t define it very well, but we know it when we see it. And, as Pete pointed out, ever-more sophisticated sonography is allowing us to see it earlier and earlier in the process.

Because, duh, a baby is a baby is a baby. It may not be a full-fledged, kicking and screaming infant until after it’s born, but, I ask again, if it’s not a human baby before that, then what on earth could it possibly be? Some kind of misplaced gallstone?

And, yes, given that this is a human being we’re talking about, one who reacts to the world in many ways, inside and outside the womb, it seems reasonable to believe it hurts, doesn’t it?

The problem is, if we really told ourselves the truth about this, everyone would be against abortion. Wouldn’t they?

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Abortion and a Just Society

I wanted to add to the comments of Jonathan and Alana regarding the new Gallup poll showing that just 41 percent of Americans now say they are pro-choice (a new low) while 50 percent identify as pro-life.

In terms of the actual number of abortions in America, the figure had dropped from a national high of more than 1.6 million in 1990 to 1.21 million today, a low not seen since the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision legalizing the practice in Roe v. Wade. And as the Gallup survey suggests, America is becoming more, not less, pro-life. (A Gallup poll conducted in May 2009 found 51 percent of Americans calling themselves “pro-life” on the issue of abortion and 42 percent “pro-choice.” This was the first time a majority of U.S. adults identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question more than 15 years ago.)

What explains both the drop in the number of abortions and the shift in public attitudes?

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I wanted to add to the comments of Jonathan and Alana regarding the new Gallup poll showing that just 41 percent of Americans now say they are pro-choice (a new low) while 50 percent identify as pro-life.

In terms of the actual number of abortions in America, the figure had dropped from a national high of more than 1.6 million in 1990 to 1.21 million today, a low not seen since the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision legalizing the practice in Roe v. Wade. And as the Gallup survey suggests, America is becoming more, not less, pro-life. (A Gallup poll conducted in May 2009 found 51 percent of Americans calling themselves “pro-life” on the issue of abortion and 42 percent “pro-choice.” This was the first time a majority of U.S. adults identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question more than 15 years ago.)

What explains both the drop in the number of abortions and the shift in public attitudes?

There are undoubtedly several factors at play here, but one, I suspect, is that many pro-life spokesmen changed their rhetorical tactics and began to choose their fights more carefully. Throughout much of the 1990s, the debate became colored by the clear-cut issue of partial-birth abortion, which, although not settled legislatively until 2003, helped to create greater social sympathy for a moderately pro-life position. Also contributing to the rethinking was the more widespread use of sonogram technology, which enables would-be parents to see the developing child and its human form at a very early stage. All in all, not only has the public discussion of abortion been transformed, but younger Americans seem to have moved the furthest on this issue, and this trend seems likely to continue.

But the abortion debate goes beyond practicalities to fundamental issues of justice.

In medical ethics, there is a philosophical divide between utilitarianism, the belief in the greatest good for the greatest number, and the belief in the inherent human dignity of every individual. At bottom, the utilitarian approach is an assertion of the power of the strong over the weak; it treats human beings as means rather than as ends. By contrast, the belief in human dignity is rooted in the Jewish and Christian tradition of regarding the protection of innocent lives as one of the primary purposes of a just society.

Given the increasing technological control that human beings have over their own nature, this conflict has important implications for the future. A utilitarian society will be dramatically different from, and dramatically less humane than, a society that honors the principle of human dignity. We know which one will be better for the weak.

“It was once said that the moral test of government,” remarked the great liberal champion Hubert Humphrey, “is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.” These are beautiful and evocative words, and they set a worthy standard for the state. Unborn children are at the dawn of life, and they deserve the protection of government. Incrementally, step by step, year by year, more and more people seem to agree.

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Abortion and the Failed War on Women

Recent polls have shown that the Democrats’ efforts to use social issues to help demonize Republicans and mobilize support for President Obama’s re-election are flopping. The gender gap between the parties is evaporating rather than getting wider, as liberals had hoped. It is in this context that the Gallup poll on attitudes toward abortion that Alana mentioned earlier must be understood. The problem for the president is not just that a clear majority of Americans now call themselves “pro-life” rather than “pro-choice.” As Alana and Adam Serwer have noted, a close reading of the survey shows most of those polled don’t share the opinions of many in the pro-life movement. But these findings ought to inform our understanding of attitudes about social issues in general that extend beyond the narrow choice/life dichotomy at a time when the Democrats are trying desperately to gin up fear about a Republican war on women.

The point here isn’t that most Americans take an ideological approach to this issue. As Gallup points out, since the very beginning of polling about abortion, only a minority of Americans thought it should be legal under all circumstances (currently 25 percent) with a comparable number believing it should be illegal under all circumstances (currently 20 percent). The majority of Americans are in the uncertain middle, believing it ought to be legal only under some circumstances even if many of those holding such views identify with the pro-life movement. That is why a campaign geared toward polarizing the country on social issues will not help win a general election for the candidate of either major party.

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Recent polls have shown that the Democrats’ efforts to use social issues to help demonize Republicans and mobilize support for President Obama’s re-election are flopping. The gender gap between the parties is evaporating rather than getting wider, as liberals had hoped. It is in this context that the Gallup poll on attitudes toward abortion that Alana mentioned earlier must be understood. The problem for the president is not just that a clear majority of Americans now call themselves “pro-life” rather than “pro-choice.” As Alana and Adam Serwer have noted, a close reading of the survey shows most of those polled don’t share the opinions of many in the pro-life movement. But these findings ought to inform our understanding of attitudes about social issues in general that extend beyond the narrow choice/life dichotomy at a time when the Democrats are trying desperately to gin up fear about a Republican war on women.

The point here isn’t that most Americans take an ideological approach to this issue. As Gallup points out, since the very beginning of polling about abortion, only a minority of Americans thought it should be legal under all circumstances (currently 25 percent) with a comparable number believing it should be illegal under all circumstances (currently 20 percent). The majority of Americans are in the uncertain middle, believing it ought to be legal only under some circumstances even if many of those holding such views identify with the pro-life movement. That is why a campaign geared toward polarizing the country on social issues will not help win a general election for the candidate of either major party.

Partisan loyalties are a good predictor of views on abortion. Though this issue cuts across most demographic groups, 72 percent of Republicans are pro-life, while 58 percent of Democrats are pro-choice. Just as important is the fact that independents are split, with the pro-life side having a 47-41 point advantage. Yet, while an appeal to social conservative views is essential for a GOP primary and the president needs to remind his own base that he shares their values and their fears about the right, it will be extremely difficult for a Democrat to win in November by seeking to demonize those who oppose abortion.

As Gallup notes in its analysis, this has implications for related issues such as the dispute between the administration and the Catholic Church about compelling religious institutions to pay for insurance on contraception even though its use violates the church’s religious beliefs. A country where the majority sympathizes with the pro-life movement is not fertile ground for an Obama re-election campaign whose goal is to draw bright lines between the differing camps on social issues.

Of course, politicians have always tended to pander to the extremes on abortion because that is where the votes are, as only those holding to absolute views on its legality have used it as a political litmus test. But a belief that an attempt to portray Republicans as out of touch with the country on social issues seems to be a partisan trap that will do nothing to help the president win independent voters even if they do not have extreme views on abortion or contraception.

The Democrats’ ability to change the subject from ObamaCare’s assault on the religious freedom of the church to outrage about Rush Limbaugh’s insult of Sandra Fluke fooled them into thinking the war on women theme could be a game-changing election issue. But Gallup’s polling provides an explanation why in the last few weeks the president has lost ground to Mitt Romney, especially with women. The question now is whether Democrats will get the message and start crafting a more effective economic message before they dig themselves a hole the president won’t be able to crawl out of.

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The Odd Discrepancy in Abortion Polling

The percentage of Americans identifying as “pro-choice” has been steadily decreasing in recent years, and this year is no exception. Gallup found that just 41 percent now say they are pro-choice – a record low – while 50 percent identify as pro-life.

But as Adam Serwer points out, that isn’t the whole story. The majority of Americans, 52 percent, still say that abortion should be legal “under certain circumstances,” which many pro-life activists would find unacceptable. From the Gallup survey:

Gallup’s longest-running measure of abortion views, established in 1975, asks Americans if abortion should be legal in all circumstances, legal only under certain circumstances, or illegal in all circumstances. Since 2001, at least half of Americans have consistently chosen the middle position, saying abortion should be legal under certain circumstances, and the 52 percent saying this today is similar to the 50 percent in May 2011. The 25 percent currently wanting abortion to be legal in all cases and the 20 percent in favor of making it illegal in all cases are also similar to last year’s findings.

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The percentage of Americans identifying as “pro-choice” has been steadily decreasing in recent years, and this year is no exception. Gallup found that just 41 percent now say they are pro-choice – a record low – while 50 percent identify as pro-life.

But as Adam Serwer points out, that isn’t the whole story. The majority of Americans, 52 percent, still say that abortion should be legal “under certain circumstances,” which many pro-life activists would find unacceptable. From the Gallup survey:

Gallup’s longest-running measure of abortion views, established in 1975, asks Americans if abortion should be legal in all circumstances, legal only under certain circumstances, or illegal in all circumstances. Since 2001, at least half of Americans have consistently chosen the middle position, saying abortion should be legal under certain circumstances, and the 52 percent saying this today is similar to the 50 percent in May 2011. The 25 percent currently wanting abortion to be legal in all cases and the 20 percent in favor of making it illegal in all cases are also similar to last year’s findings.

“Certain circumstances” is incredibly vague. Is it saving the life of the mother (which some pro-life activists support)? Cases of rape or incest? Allowing it during the early stages of pregnancy? Without knowing the breakdown, we can’t tell whether their views fall closer to the pro-life or the pro-choice position.

Many pro-choice activists argue that any legal restrictions on abortion are unacceptable, and that the decision should be left completely up to a woman and her doctor. If you believe life doesn’t begin until birth – or that the question of when life begins is completely subjective – then there should be no moral qualms about what happens to a fetus at any point of the pregnancy.

The fact that the majority of Americans say there should be some restrictions on abortion means they do have those moral qualms. Maybe some of them aren’t sure whether life starts at conception, but believe it does begin at some point early on in the pregnancy. Or maybe some believe life starts at conception, but that taking this life is necessary in some rare and horrible circumstances. Either way, the fact that more Americans identify as pro-life seems to be a rejection of the pro-choice movement’s nonchalant — and sometimes almost celebratory — view of abortion. The majority of Americans might support abortion in certain cases, but it’s likely to be something they grapple with morally.

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