January 17, 2006

30% PARTY:

New Poll Reveals Overwhelming Majority of Americans Want Greater Abortion Restrictions (Terry Vanderheyden, January 17, 2006, LifeSiteNews.com)

A new poll conducted by Angus Reid for CBS News has revealed that the overwhelming majority of Americans would like to see greater restrictions placed on abortion.

Thirty-three percent of respondents said that abortion should be permitted only in cases such as rape, incest and to save the woman’s life; 17% said abortion should be allowed to save a woman’s life; 5% said abortion should not be permitted at all, while 15% said abortion should be permitted, but subject to greater restrictions than it is now. In total, 70% of respondents favour greater restrictions.

While Democrats can't figure out why their assertion at the Alito hearings that the Constitution guarantees an absolute right to abortion isn't getting any traction.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 17, 2006 6:39 PM

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Hart has a post up at the New Criterion's weblog arguing that conservatives should abandon the abortion issue because Americans oppose repealing Roe by a factor of 2-to-1. Which suggests that many Americans haven't been truthfully told what Roe is and what overturning it would do.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 17, 2006 7:24 PM

As well as that Professor Hart has unfortunately gone loopy recently.

Posted by: oj at January 17, 2006 9:17 PM

Americans want restricted access to safe, legal abortions. What's complicated about that?

Posted by: ghostcat at January 17, 2006 9:33 PM

Mr. Ghostcat, I think the problem has been spelled out in 'The Road To Serfdom'. The majority agrees that abortions should be safe, legal, and rare. What that means changes, depending on who you ask.
It works if you don't look to close. But Roe forced everyone to look close, and made Abortion a moral issue. I don't think we will be able to go back to the sleepy state we were in before. I think
that the Left is more aware of this then the Right,
which would explain why they are so scared of losing
the court. Who would want to be on the losing side of the second great moral shift in America?

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at January 17, 2006 10:51 PM


I think Prof. Hart is a good man, but his membership in the conservative elite gives him an instinctive aversion to "populism," which he has labelled an identifying characteristic of the George W. Bush style of politics. Hart has latched onto this epithet as a good excuse to declare the president's administration un-conservative. Ramesh Ponnuru wrote a celebrated essay some years back in which he noted that the pro-life movement had made the GOP more populist and responsive to the grassroots, and it is really this development that I believe Hart is railing against.

More worrisome, Hart writes the following:

We hear of a "right to life," those three words taken from the Declaration, where they are accompanied by the other "unalienable" rights, to liberty and the pursuit of happiness." [...]

All such "unalienable" rights are made effective only through the constitutional process [...] Until such "rights" become law they are only theoretical rights. It will not do the condemned man on his way to the gallows much good to assert his "right to life." [...] Under the Constitution, such "unalienable" rights in fact become alienable, as men are hanged and conscripted. To assert such abstractions as if they existed apart from law is Jacobinical, exactly the kind of political abstractionism against which Burke protested so effectively.

Hart earlier declared that the case he was making was "political," by which I believe he meant to say that his case was not a moral one but only designed to accommodate political reality as he sees it. To which I think we can respond: "Yeah, so what?" Hart has come perilously close to asserting that the right of an unborn child to life has no meaning outside a government decree declaring it, and that this is a reason not to proceed with any legal protection of that right. Besides the obviously shoddy reasoning on display here, it brings up the matter of whether or not Hart thinks there is any place for a moral argument apart from a political one. Most conservatives would say rights come from God and/or already inherently exist, but Hart is suggesting otherwise.

I know Hart isn't a nihilist, but his refusal to state his own political preferences on abortion makes me suspect that he finds nothing wrong with legalized abortion, despite his professed Catholicism. I think he has lapsed into speaking like a moral relativist because he wants abortion to be legal and is disregarding his usual standards in pursuit of his argument. That he enlists Edmund Burke in advancing his case (a claim that Roger Kimball rips to pieces here) is particularly distressing.

(Note also that Hart takes the most extreme positions of the pro-life cause and notes they are unlikely to be enacted into law, which he thinks discredits the pro-life side almost entirely. The obvious rejoinder is that pro-lifers have become especially good at advancing their causes in a piecemeal fashion, and nobody is arguing that their whole agenda ought to be made into law at once, or that the public would be satisfied if it were. Besides, if he can declare abortion-on-demand inevitable in a free society like ours, what's to stop me from declaring GOP populism inevitable and calling him retrograde for wanting to turn the GOP in a more elitist direction?)

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 17, 2006 11:45 PM

Mr. Mitchell -

So the Right - like the Left before it - will try to use the courts to force an unwanted social policy on the majority? Perhaps, but at that point the counter-counter revolution begins.

Posted by: ghostcat at January 18, 2006 12:31 AM

Mark Steyn says that the Democrats revealed their top five issues of concern during the debates: abortion, spying on terrorists, abortion, abortion, and abortion. Of course, the American people aren't abortion-rights absolutists by any stretch, and they don't understand what's so wrong about keeping a close eye on our enemies. Meanwhile, the Democrats wonder not what is wrong with their strategy, but what is wrong with the public.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 18, 2006 12:31 AM


Yes, the Libertarian Right is pro-abortion and assumes that to have been an originalist position for conservatism. Of course, he's from a generation where we all also supported abortion as a way to control the black population.

Posted by: oj at January 18, 2006 1:09 AM


Demographics are killing off the cohort that's pro-abortion.

Posted by: oj at January 18, 2006 1:10 AM

Wrong, oj, unless you mean unrestricted access to abortion. Ask the voters whether a woman ought to be able to abort a zygote resulting from rape or incest.

Posted by: ghostcat at January 18, 2006 1:23 AM

Very wrong. "We all" never "also supported abortion as a way the control the black population."

Back in the days shortly after Roe was handed down, anti-Catholic bigotry, to which the text of Blackmun's opinion appealed, led many people to accept abortion just because the Pope was against it.

"Show me in the Bible where it says abortion is wrong," my Evangelical friends in the Marine Corps used to say. So I showed them. http://godandscience.org/doctrine/prolife.html
most particularly, Jer 1:5. It took them years to come around, but come around they did.

At least we are seeing a pattern emerging: playing the race card as a way to bully people.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 18, 2006 3:02 AM


What could be more revealing than how narrowly you have to define what we'd allow? You're down to the point where no one is included in the "right."

Posted by: oj at January 18, 2006 8:45 AM


Look at polls even today on who it is most people think are getting abortions.

Posted by: oj at January 18, 2006 9:00 AM

Thanks for your reply Mr. Ghostcat. I'm sorry, perhaps I was unclear. I'm saying that the Left used the courts to gain a short term advantage, but
in so doing 'made it a live wire'. I do think that OJ is right, and repealing Roe will return the issue to the states. But like Slavery before it, now that people are aware of the issue, I don't think will go
quietly. What was an obscure area of regulations has been turned into a large and public moral issue.
I can very easily see an amendment drive before we
are done.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at January 18, 2006 10:58 AM

oj: The so-called "religious right" knows this and fights baby-murder nonetheless. What does that make us?

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 18, 2006 3:06 PM


Posted by: oj at January 18, 2006 3:13 PM

I think most people don't want abortions to be against the law, but neither do they want abortion used as a quick and easy method of birth control, and while I don't agree with everything Jeffrey Hart says, I agree that conservatives should abandon the abortion issue because it hands over a large percentage of the woman's vote to Democrats.

Posted by: erp at January 18, 2006 4:49 PM

Single women are Democrats because insecure. Married women are conservative because they have security.

Posted by: oj at January 18, 2006 4:53 PM