Editor, The Beacon:
As a virtual total abortion ban bill moves rapidly through the Florida Legislature, it’s important to understand just how unpopular such a ban is, and where, exactly, the push to ban abortion is truly coming from.
According to Pew Research, overall views in the U.S. are that 61 percent support legal abortion in all or most cases, whereas 37 percent are opposed to legal abortion in all or most cases. That’s almost a 2-to-1 advantage in support of legal abortion. So how is it possible for anti-abortion legislation to proliferate in so many states? In order to answer that question, we must break some things down.
We hear criticism about “identity politics,” but this derogatory label only serves to disguise the truth in demographic differences. If we ask the question along lines of gender, race, age, party affiliation and level of education, we begin to see a pattern.
Looking at gender, 63 percent of women are in support of legal abortion, whereas 58 percent of men are. Regardless of differences, majorities of both women and men support legal abortion.
The age group most in favor of legal abortion is 18-29, with 74 percent support; 62 percent of 30- to 49-year olds, and 55 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds, support legal abortion. The age group with the least amount of support for abortion is 65-plus, with 54 percent supporting. While abortion support drops the older the group, majorities of all age groups support legal abortion.
Level of education matters as well. College graduates show the highest support (66 percent); people with some college education 63-percent support; and people with a high-school education or less have the least support (54 percent). But even in this category, the majorities of all groups support legal abortion.
Race matters too. Asians and Blacks almost tie in the highest level of support (68 percent and 67 percent, respectively). Hispanics and whites are equally close in their support with 58 percent and 57 percent, respectively. In regard to race, the majorities of all groups support legal abortion.
You may be wondering now, if all categories have a majority in support of legal abortion, where is this anti-abortion legislation coming from? The answer lies in party affiliation and in breaking down the data along race-gender lines.
It comes as no surprise that 80 percent of Democratically leaning people support legal abortion, whereas 60 percent of Republican-leaning people are opposed.
It comes as no surprise that all abortion-restriction legislation proposed and passed over the past 20 years has been by Republican-led legislatures. Clearly, Republicans are not following the wishes of the majority of any demographic groups, unless you break down the data a little further.
Among Black women (74 percent) and Black men (67 percent), the majority of both groups support legal abortion. Hispanic women (58 percent) and Hispanic men (53 percent) support it. White women (54 percent) show less support than Hispanic women, but slightly more than Hispanic men. There is only one category where the majority does not support legal abortion — white men (44 percent support).
There we have it. We already knew that anti-abortion legislation is coming from Republicans, but now we see quite clearly that it is specifically white men who are opposed to legal abortion. (My apologies to white men who support legal abortion!) Since white men are still overrepresented in all levels of government (35 percent of the population, 66 percent of political office), we can see the very real and clear results of their overrepresentation. They will pass anti-abortion legislation no matter what the majority of the population wants!
To the 44 percent of white men who support legal abortion, talk some sense into your peers, and vote only for candidates whose views on abortion you support. A tenet of democracy says that a minority cannot long hold sway over the majority of the people!
Thank you! I am going to share this with my students in public health classes at Stetson University!