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Polls Show Support for Abortion Bans After 20 Weeks of Pregnancy

By Jennifer G. Hickey   |   Monday, 02 Sep 2013 07:55 PM

Public opinion polls are showing surprising support for a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with several national surveys showing women are more likely than men to support such restrictions.

A recent Quinnipiac poll showed 60 percent of women prefer allowing unrestricted abortions for only the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, compared to 50 percent of men.

The gap between the sexes is seven points in an ABC News-Washington Post survey that showed 56 percent of women prefer a ban on abortion after 20-weeks than after 24-weeks. And a survey conducted by The National Journal showed half of the women questioned and 46 percent of men were in favor of a 20-week ban.

The poll findings undermine the conventional wisdom that often maintains abortion is a winning issue for Democrats, especially among female voters.

"Overall, the survey suggests that the 20-week abortion measure fractures some of the modern Democratic coalition. Among all age groups, it was young Americans -- who have regularly sided with Democratic priorities in the age of Obama -- who most strongly supported the measure (52 percent)," the National Journal noted.

Michael New wrote on National Review's "The Corner" that the conventional wisdom that abortion is a woman's issue "is one of the most persistent myths surrounding abortion politics. … In reality, a substantial amount of survey data finds that men and women actually have fairly similar views on abortion."

The findings come as several states earlier this year enacted bans on abortions after 20 weeks, with advocates citing technological advances that indicate a fetus can experience pain earlier than previously believed.

North Dakota Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed such ban in April, joining Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, and Arkansas which enacted similar measures.

And the issue was highlighted earlier this summer when Texas state Rep. Wendy Davis vaulted into the national spotlight after her 11-hour filibuster sought to block legislation in Texas enacting restrictions on abortions, including bans as early as 20 weeks.

The Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that states could restrict abortions after the first trimester of pregnancy, but later cases modified the standard to "fetus viability" outside the womb, thought to be at 24 weeks.

William Galston, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, tells Newsmax that even with support for enacting earlier abortion restrictions, the politics of the issue is not likely to have an impact in upcoming elections.

"What had an impact in 2012 was the Republican Party's stance on abortion, not the issue itself. Those social issues did not play much of a factor in 2012," Galston said.

During the 2012 election, President Barack Obama said Republicans had launched a war on women by seeking restrictions on abortion and contraception and misstatements by several GOP senatorial candidates on rape helped feed that perception.

While polls have shown a marked shift on other contentious social issues, such as more support growing in favor of gay marriage, views on abortion have been considerably more stable.

"The balance of opinion in the U.S. public on the legality of abortion has remained relatively stable over the past two decades, while there has been a marked change in the balance of opinion on the legality of same-sex marriage," Alan Cooperman, deputy director of Pew's Religion & Public Life Project, tells Newsmax. "However, it would be wrong to suggest that public opinion on abortion is totally static and unchanging."

A Pew survey of 4,006 adults suggests that no matter their views on the legal merits of Roe v. Wade, most Americans continue to frame their opinions on abortion in moral terms.

According to Pew, 49 percent said they personally believe abortion is morally wrong, while 23 percent said it was not a moral issue, and only 15 percent said it was morally acceptable.

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