The Jennings blog has moved!
As of October 1, 2011 the Jennings Project blog has moved and joined forces with Constitution Daily, the Center’s daily digest of smart conversation on the Constitution. All new posts will be published there, so be sure to subscribe and follow Constitution Daily on Twitter. If you are interested in submitting a post to Constitution Daily, please email Stefan Frank at JenningsProject@constitutioncenter.org.
Friday, May 14, 2010
What Drives Americans' Shifting Opinions on Abortion Rights?
Why the shift? There are signs that Americans are becoming more concerned about the morality of abortion. The same Gallup poll found that 50 percent of Americans find abortion morally wrong while 38 percent did not. That is a shift from 2001 when 45 percent found it wrong while 42 percent did not. Some of that change may be driven by the advances in medical science that have pushed the viability of a fetus – that is, its ability, if delivered to live – earlier and earlier. But Gallup favors the notion that our increasingly polarized political dialogue is influencing opinion. Since most of the increase in “pro-life” identification is among Republicans and Independents, the notion is that the intensity of the political debate on all subjects is causing a hardening of positions that wasn’t there fifteen years ago.
The implications for the so-called independent judiciary are stark. Because it is such a polarizing subject, abortion strikes fear among legislators, but not even the Courts can ignore a political divide that inspires such strongly held feelings. Look for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan to respond to questions on abortion by safely saying that she respects stare decisis (i.e., Roe v Wade) and demur from offering opinions on how any future abortion cases should be decided.