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Abortion Debate Running in Place

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Jeralyn has already posted about today’s Supreme Court ruling upholding a federal ban on partial-birth abortions, along with the subsequent reaction from local politicians. Judging from the swift reaction to the ruling, abortion is still a divisive political issue throughout the country…even if opinions haven’t really changed.

Now don’t get me wrong – abortion is a very serious issue that many, many people are passionate about on either side of the debate. But as The Associated Press notes, Americans just haven’t changed their mind on the subject over the years:

Although most Americans favor some restrictions on abortion, an AP-Ipsos poll released from early March 2006 found 52 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal in most or all cases. Just 19 percent said abortion should be legal in all cases. By contrast, 43 percent said it should be illegal in most or all cases…

…An ABC News poll in July 2003 showed 62 percent of Americans believing that the kinds of abortion ruled on Wednesday should be illegal. A March 2006 poll from Fox News and the Quinnipiac University returned similar results. But just 33 percent of respondents in the ABC poll thought the procedure should be banned even if it were needed to prevent serious health problems for the woman.

In general, American public opinion on abortion has remained relatively stable for the past decade.

Abortion was a hot topic a couple of years ago when Bill Ritter was courting pro-choice Democrats in his campaign for governor. As I wrote back in November 2005, Ritter spent far too much time worrying about how Democrats would receive him on this one issue, particularly when he wasn’t going to change any minds anyway. You can debate whether or not Colorado is a pro-choice state, which some polls show, but I think it’s telling that people often assume that our state is pro-life (at the very least that isn’t definitely true). From a political perspective abortion is a subject where opinions just haven’t changed much over the years, even though plenty of people hold their own strong views. Abortion is different than global warming, for example, because I think it’s fairly obvious that opinions on climate change have shifted in recent years, but it’s interesting that as much as the subject has come up in the last decade, people don’t seem to be convincing others of their own arguments.

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