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Bar graph showing results of July 2013 poll on abortion. Majority supports legal abortion, wants Constitution, not states, to decide law, opposes state laws making it more difficult for clinics to operate, and supports unconstitutional 20-week abortion bans.
A majority of Americans—55 percent—continue to think abortion should be legal in most or all cases, compared to just 41 percent who believe it should be illegal in most or all cases, a new ABC/Washington Post poll finds. Similarly, 54 percent oppose state "legislation that makes it more difficult for abortion clinics to operate," 37 percent strongly opposing it. An even larger majority—66 percent—think the U.S. Constitution, and not the states, should set abortion law. And yet a 56 percent majority thinks abortion should only be legal without restriction up to the 20 weeks that states like Texas keep passing, rather than the 24 weeks that the Supreme Court has said is constitutional. Go figure.

If nothing else, this shows the incoherence of the public debate and the weakness of opinion polling: A significant number of people told the pollster that they think the Constitution should prevail, that they oppose state laws making it more difficult for clinics to operate ... and that they support a restriction that is currently unconstitutional and that has been in the news most recently as part of a larger attempt to close abortion clinics.

I guess for some people it probably seems like a reasonable way to walk the fence, to be "moderate," "reasonable," to stay out of the big fights ... to be politely squeamish about a decision they're unlikely to face because their own lives don't involve the lack of money or access to reliable health care that make it difficult for some women to obtain an abortion early on.

But the political reality is this: 20-week bans are part of the exact same movement that wants to close abortion clinics by forcing them to meet ambulatory surgical center requirements and having doctors with admitting privileges at local hospitals. And it's certainly not linked to a movement to make birth control affordable and accessible, let alone early abortions.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 07:51 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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