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Fox News Polls: Pre-lifers in the Minority

Reported by Judy - March 8, 2006

In yet another sign of pending trouble for the Republican Party, a majority of Americans in a Fox News poll oppose having their state pass a South Dakota-style law banning all abortions except those to save the life of the woman. But Fox News commentators said the poll may not deter pre-lifers, those extremists who care about only those who have not been born, from passing similar laws elsewhere.

The poll found only 35 percent of Americans would support such a law while 59 percent would oppose it. "Special Report with Brit Hume" featured the Opinion Dynamics Poll on Tuesday (March 7, 2006) during both the Grapevine and All Stars segments.

"A majority of Americans look at South Dakota and what it's done with horror: only one abortion clinic and no South Dakota doctor will perform an abortion. ... Women have to travel hundreds of miles to get an abortion," said Mort Kondracke, "Roll Call" editor. Kondracke said pre-lifers seem to want to push ahead with South Dakota-style laws wherever they are strong, such as in Mississippi.

The South Dakota law is designed to act as a test case before the Supreme Court which now has two new right-wing justices, whom pre-lifers suspect will help overturn Roe vs. Wade. But as All Star and "Weekly Standard" Editor Fred Barnes pointed out, the case may never get to the U.S. Supreme Court. The law could be struck down by a lower court. And if an appellate court upholds that decision, the high court does not have to take the case.

Nevertheless, NPR correspondent and All Star panel member Juan Williams said he expects the matter will "become a big issue in the midterm elections."

According to the poll, that is not an issue that is a winning one for the GOP. The poll found overwhelming support for legal abortion in many circumstances: In cases of rape or incest, 74 percent; if the woman's life is at risk, 83 percent, and if the woman's mental health is at risk, 62 percent. If found considerable support for legal abortion if the pregnancy is "unwanted" -- 43 percent.

The only area where those polled favored restrictions by a lopsided margin was in cases of certain rarely performed late-term abortions, where 61 percent thought they should be banned.

Using the pre-lifers' term of "partial birth abortion" to describe this procedure, Barnes went into detail about how the procedure is performed, describing the wiggling of the fetus' toes and so on. Barnes predicted that eventually all third trimester abortions will be banned, apparently even those done to save the life of the woman. "The polls suggest people find this a barbaric procedure," intoned Hume.

The poll was not particularly fair one. All the questions regarding abortion were asked using the term "mother" instead of "woman," betraying the pollster's bias against abortion.

So why have the extremist pre-lifers abandoned their step-by-step approach to outlawing abortion by which they have been chipping away at access to abortion for decades? It may be that their arrogance has finally caught up with them.

This fall may find GOP candidates trying to explain why they disagree with so many of their constituents over access to legal abortion for rape victims and having to explain exactly how close to death a woman must be before they would allow a legal abortion. Must there be a 100 percent chance the woman will die without an abortion, or is a 50 percent chance grounds enough for the procedure to go forward?

This last question will not be an easy one for pre-life politicians to answer. So far, they've been able to skate by being vague about it, but now that the all the pre-lifers' cards are on the table, it's time to get down to specitfics -- how close to death must a woman be before you will permit an abortion to save her?

How pre-lifers answer that question is going to shed a lot of light on how much they really value life, as opposed to pre-life.

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