Contrary to conventional wisdom, Americans support bills that ban abortion after a heartbeat is detected, according to a new poll.
But it depends on how the question is phrased.
Pollster Scott Rasmussen surveyed 1,005 registered voters for the ScottRasmussen.com/HarrisX and split the samples in half to determine what Americans believe about the bills.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed such a bill into law last week.
A full 56 percent of registered voters in the new survey backed such laws when they learned a fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks of pregnancy. The question read, “A fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Do you favor or oppose a proposal that would make abortion illegal at any point after a fetal heartbeat has been detected?” Forty-four percent of registered voters were opposed.
But support fell when the “six weeks” language was excluded.
Less than half (45 percent) of registered voters supported fetal heartbeat abortion bans when the question read: “Do you favor or oppose a proposal that would make abortion illegal at any point after a fetal heartbeat has been detected?” Fifty-five percent of registered voters opposed the bills when that language was included.
The questions included a sample size of 516 voters and 490 voters, respectively.
An abdominal ultrasound usually doesn’t detect a heartbeat until at least eight weeks. (A transvaginal ultrasound -- not required under the Ohio law -- can detect it at six weeks.)
Registered voters also are more likely to support a candidate who backs heartbeat abortion bans, according to the survey. Fifty-one percent of registered voters said they would be more likely to support a candidate who “who said abortion should not be allowed once a fetal heartbeat has been detected” over a candidate (27 percent) who “said abortion should be legal at any point during a pregnancy.” That question included all 1,005 respondents.
In signing the bill, DeWine acknowledged it may face a court challenge but asserted it “is the right thing to do.”
“The essential function of government is to protect the most vulnerable among us, those who don't have a voice,” DeWine said as he signed the bill, according to NPR. “Government's role should be to protect life from the beginning to the end.”
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
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