Monday, September 12, 2005

The Abortion Divide in Nebraska

by Kyle Michaelis
Thanks to DailyKos for drawing our attention to another in a long line of Suvey USA's on-going state-by-state polls, this time gauging where Nebraskans categorize themselves in the abortion debate. Read the full poll results here for Nebraska and here for the entire country.

With 49% of Nebraskans self-declared "Pro-choice" and 47% declared "Pro-life", it's clear we, even more than the rest of the nation, are pretty evenly divided. Other than that, not much surprises. Men are still more likely to consider themselves "Pro-life" than women, a gap of more than 6% between the sexes. Similarly, young people aged 18-34, who are most affected by the issue, remain the most supportive of abortion rights at 52-43%.

Interestingly, Democrats and Independents in Nebraska mimicked each other almost exactly, with both tending towards "Pro-choice" at 60+ to 34%. That poses a stark contrast to Republicans who tended "Pro-life" at 60 to 37%.

Sadly, the distinction between "Pro-life" and "Pro-choice" has become so blurred over the years as to be all but meaningless, resulting in an over-politicized yet muddled debate feeding off a sea of subjectivity. I generally tend to think division along these lines radically inflates numbers for the Pro-life camp, perverting the true character of the American public.

The important distinction in the abortion debate is not whether you think abortion is a negative, likely immoral, act, which is all it takes to qualify traditionally as Pro-life. No, the question - the SOLE QUESTION for public policy purposes - is whether abortion should be criminalized...whether women who seek to terminate a pregnancy, the doctors who assist them in doing so, and - yes - perhaps even the responsible (/irresponsible) man (or boy) should be held as criminals (perhaps murderers) and punsihed for their actions.

THAT is the question that needs to be asked - should abortion be a crime...yes or no?

I think for many who believe abortion a sin or even just a personal tragedy - who are Pro-life as a matter of conscience - they would not go so far as to desire seeing the unfortunate women who receive such operations punished for their plight. The entirely inadequate "Pro-choice" vs. "Pro-life" distinction masks this base level of compassion on the part of the American people, including the people of Nebraska.


Blogger john owens-ream said...

thanks for this post kyle. i hadn't seen the poll and would have missed it if it weren't for the handy new nebraska network.

and wow, what a poll. I didn't expect indipendents in nebraska to be so pro-choice.

Blogger Lee Clausen said...

There was an interesting article in today's Omaha World-Herald, 09-19-05, written by Joe Dejka.

Part of the article, "Protester Sam Laberto of Bellevue on the road outside the Phoenix Equestrian Center. Abortion opponents who protest abortion provider Dr. LeRoy Carhart have switched tactics and are now picketing outside the center, which is owned by Carhart and run by his daughter, Janine."

Visit, for the entire article.

Blogger Roger Snowden said...

As is often the case, this poll is simplistic and useless. The question "Are you pro life? Or pro choice?" misses the point entirely.

The so-called abortion debate in this country has been conducted so as to draw a line between 1) unrestricted abortion on demand or 2) criminalize all abortion.

Not so simple. In the light of such current news as the late-term abortion controversy, if you ask people if they want unrestricted abortion on demand, or would prefer some restrictions on abortion, I think you will get a completely different answer. All the cases where late term abortion laws are overturned involve apparent lack of provisions for protection of the health of the mother.

I think it is fair to say most Americans would accept abortion as a means to save a mother's life. In fact, many people find a number of situations where abortion might be morally acceptable.

The Left, on the other hand, will not accept any restriction on abortion at all. Period. That makes them way out of touch with most American voters. Which is why the Left does not want the question put to a vote.

If Roe v. Wade was overturned, would that mean a sudden stop to abortions? No, it simply might mean individual states would be have to decide the issue themselves, presumably through the legislative process. How many here really think New York, or even Iowa will totally outlaw all abortions?

A better question needs to be asked, if we are to reveal useful information.


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