Here’s 2020’s first dispatch from the crossroads of faith and media:

As the mainstream gears up for its reliably all-holds barred coverage of this Friday’s annual March for Life in Washington, comes this new Marist poll (admittedly paid for by the Catholic organization Knights of Columbus) which shows that a majority actually support meaningful abortion restrictions – and most have problems with the reasoning behind the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973  Roe v. Wade decision.

According to the poll, a notable proportion (41%) of those who identify as pro-choice are more likely to vote for candidates who support restrictions, as are more than nine in 10 who identify as pro-life (96%).

The poll also found that about two-thirds of Americans (65%) and the same percentage of registered voters say they “are more likely to vote for” candidates who would limit abortion to at most the first three months of pregnancy. This includes about nine in 10 Republicans (88%), more than six in 10 independents (62% percent), and more than four in 10 Democrats (44%).

Additionally, more than six in 10 Americans (62%) say that if the Supreme Court revisits Roe v. Wade it should rule to allow states to determine restrictions (46%) or make abortion illegal (16%). Only 33% of Americans say Roe v. Wade should be interpreted to allow for legal abortion any time without restriction. The 62% majority includes about four in 10 of those who identify as Democrats (39%) or as “pro-choice” (40%).

And, when it comes to voting for president, intensity seems to be strong on the pro-life side. By a margin of 10 percentage points (45% to 35%), those who identify as pro-life are more likely to say abortion is a “major factor” in their vote for president than those who identify as pro-choice.

The poll also finds that, by more than 10 percentage points (52% to 41%), a majority of Americans, believe that women should be required to have an ultrasound prior to having an abortion.

Meanwhile, according to the poll, a strong majority of Americans (75% to 21%) are also against taxpayer funding of abortion overseas. This includes six in 10 of those who identify as pro-choice (61%) and more than nine in 10 of those who identify as pro-life (95%). Six in 10 Americans (60%) also oppose domestic taxpayer funding of abortion. This includes 89% of those who identify as pro-life, and 37% of those who identify as pro-choice. And by 15 percentage points (55% to 40%), a majority of Americans support banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This includes 45% of those who identify as pro-choice and 69% of those who identify as pro-life.

The new Marist Poll also finds that Americans are more likely to identify as pro-choice (55%) than pro-life (40%), a narrowing of the margin between the two sides by seven percentage points since last summer, when the NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll found a 57% to 35% divide. While those who identify as pro-life unsurprisingly support restrictions on abortion and other positions generally considered to be “pro-life,” the survey also shows the limits of the pro-choice label. Majorities or substantial minorities of those who identify as pro-choice, also support restrictions on abortion and other pro-life positions.

By a margin of more than five to one (80% to 14%), Americans say that laws can protect both a mother and her unborn child.

Knight’s CEO Carl Anderson contends that “Most Americans want the court to reinterpret Roe either by stopping legalized abortion or by returning the issue to the states…The fact that such large numbers of Americans who identify as pro-choice nevertheless support restrictions and the revisiting of Roe v. Wade shows how misleading it is to conflate the term ‘pro-choice’ with support for radically pro-abortion position that calls for unrestricted abortion.’

Poll Methodology

This survey of 1,237 adults was conducted January 7th through January 12th, 2020 by The Marist Poll sponsored in partnership with The Knights of Columbus. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the contiguous United States were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed by telephone using live interviewers. Survey questions were available in English or Spanish. The samples were then combined and balanced to reflect the 2017 American Community Survey one-year estimates for age, gender, income, race, and region. Results are statistically significant within ±3.7 percentage points. There are 1,070 registered voters. The results for this subset are statistically significant within ±4.0 percentage points. The error margin was adjusted for sample weights and increases for cross-tabulations.

IMHO: Abortion is a truly complex issue. Many Americans are both pro-life and pro-choice. They would like to find a path that acknowledges a woman’s ultimate right over own body while also encouraging the choice of life. Too many women who would choose to have their babies are pushed into abortion because of hard financial circumstances. Just as money shouldn’t determine who and who does not receive quality healthcare, it shouldn’t be the deciding factor regarding a woman exercising her right to choose life. With compassion and reason, I believe a passionate and reasonable path can be found – one in which abortions are safe, legal and very rare.

Trailer of the Week: I Still Believe

I Still Believe is based on the true story of love and loss in the real life of chart-topping Christian music singer Jeremy Camp. From the creators of the box office hit I Can Only Imagine and starring KJ Apa, Britt Robertson, Gary Sinise and Shania Twain, “I Still Believe” is directed by Jon and Andrew Erwin and produced by Kevin Downes, with the screenplay by Jon Erwin and Jon Gunn. “I Still Believe” is a powerful reminder that in the midst of life’s storms, true hope can be found. The film will be released in theaters nationwide Friday, March 13.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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