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Published: January 23, 2013 10:56 am to Analysis

NBC News/Wall Street Journal bungles Roe v. Wade poll

This week NBC News and Wall Street Journal released a joint poll on Roe v. Wade and abortion.

Below is the question wording for Question 21:

question

One key error is present in the characterization of the Roe v. Wade decision as one that a “constitutional right to an abortion, at least in the first three months of pregnancy.” The Roe decision, along with small later modifications by the Supreme Court, mandates that no state may restrict abortion before the point of viability. Now, viability is not a set point, as it is dependent on medical technology, which is constantly changing. Current viability is understood to be around 23 weeks, as that is the age at which the youngest babies have survived outside the womb.

deception-truth-liesBy labeling Roe as a decision mandating legal abortion through “at least in the first three months of pregnancy,” the public is misled to believe that the Roe decision legalized abortion through the first 3 months instead of the first 23 weeks (about 5.5 months). Polls have shown that a sizeable number of Americans support legal abortion only in the first three months of pregnancy. Their position is contrary to Roe, as no state is allowed under Roe to restrict abortion to the first three months. These people are being falsely led to believe that their position and Roe are compatible.

An accurate question should have been phrased, “…constitutional right to an abortion, at least to the point of viability outside the womb, which is currently about 23 weeks into fetal development.”