On Abortion, the People Keep Speaking. Is Anyone Listening?
The defeat of the 20-week abortion ban in Albuquerque underscores a critical but often overlooked point in abortion politics: When given the chance, voters have consistently rejected the anti-choice agenda. In South Dakota, voters have twice overwhelmingly defeated anti-choice ballot initiatives promoting abortion bans. And in Colorado, voters have twice dismissed so-called personhood laws that would have banned abortions and most forms of birth control. Another personhood ballot initiative was defeated in Mississippi by a margin of 57 to 43 percent.
Consistent rejection by actual voters of attempts to give the state control over women’s bodies tells us three things. One, polls that attempt to divide people into neat boxes such as “pro-choice” and “pro-life” or to measure support for hypothetical restrictions on abortion in generic terms do not reflect how people really feel about safe abortion care. In fact, when asked specifically about who should make decisions on how and when to bear children and under what circumstances to terminate a pregnancy, voters make clear they do not want to interfere in the deeply personal decisions they believe belong between a woman, her partner and family, and her medical advisers, even in cases of later abortion. In short, voters do not want legislators playing god or doctor.