Roundup: A Final Look at Poll Results on Abortion Related Ballot Initiatives

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Roundup: A Final Look at Poll Results on Abortion Related Ballot Initiatives

Brady Swenson

Abortion related ballot initiatives will be decided in California, Colorado and South Dakota today; Jill at Feministe offers up a nice voter guide; Why Catholics shouldn't be afraid to support a pro-choice candidate; New York Times looks at the demographics of women who have had an abortion.

A Final Look at Poll Results on Abortion Ballot Initiatives

As Scott reported over the weekend polling on the three abortion related ballot initiatives — parental notification in California, redefining personhood to begin at fertilization in Colorado and the outright ban of abortion in South Dakota — has moved toward protecting women’s right to choose as we approached election day. 

In late September those supporting California’s parental notification initiative, Proposition 4, enjoyed a sizable lead in the polls, 52-36.  However, the latest SurveyUSA poll shows the measure going down in defeat 40-46.   Though that poll still leaves a large number of undecideds, opponents of the measure are encouraged by the historic margin of victory predicted in California for Senator Barack Obama as registered Democrats oppose the measure 59-28 and high turnout and enthusiasm for the top of the Democratic ticket could mean significant coat tails for the opposition to Proposition 4. 

For a couple of weeks polls have shown that the Colorado ballot initiative amending the state’s consitution to redefine "person" to include a zygote at the moment of fertilization will go down easily in defeat and there has been no change on that front.

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South Dakota’s Initiated Measure 11 remains very tight and too close to call.  All recent polling on the measure also shows a high number of undecideds remaining.  The two most recent polls are the Research 2000 poll from October 22-24 that shows opposition to the measure leading slightly 44-42 and a poll conducted by newspaper The Argus Leader showing the measure even at 44-44.  This is the ballot initiative to pay close attention to tonight as its passage would send a direct challenge against Roe vs. Wade to the Supreme Court.


Excellent Voter Guide at Feministe

Feministe’s excellent voter guide shows exactly why it is one of our very favorite blogs.  Jill does a great job stepping through the issues important to women in the campaign for President and concludes that "even a brief look at the issues makes clear that [Barack Obama] is a solidly progressive, feminist choice for the presidency."  Jill then goes  state-by-state looking at the important abortion related ballot initiatives mentioned above and a brief look at some House and Senate races that are important to establishing a pro-choice majority in Congress.


Where Was Abortion Debate in 2008 Election?

Newsweek says that "abortion hasn’t been a central debate in the 2008 campaign, but that
doesn’t mean that its opponents feel any less strongly about it."  Indeed the abortion debate has remained relatively below the surface of this year’s election as the economy dominated the domestic debate and two war fronts were the top concern in the foreign policy arena.  Butsome new arguments were made in the abortion debate this year and some movement toward finding a middle ground centered on using social policy to reduce unintended pregnancy and provide support to single mothers and struggling familes, thus lowering the abortion rate:

What’s new, then, is this: A few—a very few—prominent Christians and
Catholics (like Douglas Kmiec, one of Weigel’s ideological opponents)
have been making arguments that allow a conservative Christian believer
to vote for Obama in good conscience. These, in summary, are:

  1. A
    pro-life Christian can look at a candidate’s policies on behalf of
    children—for isn’t it as urgent for a nation to care for its born
    children as its unborn ones?
  2. A pro-life Christian
    needs to look beyond abortion to other types of needless killing, like
    war and torture and care for the neediest. Which candidate will better
    promote life, when considered this broadly?
  3. After
    35 years, anti-abortion activists have accomplished very little,
    politically, to end legal abortion. Why not try something new? Work on
    the state level for restrictions? Work with political opponents to find
    common ground? Work to achieve justice on behalf of other, less
    intractable issues, like AIDS, literacy or childhood disease?


Catholics Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Support a Pro-Choice Candidate

Much of the Catholic leadership in America has gone out of their way to tell their congregations how to vote today.  Yesterday, Kansas City’s Bishop told Obama voters that they would essentially be going to hell for supporting the Democratic nominee.  In response Tim Fernholz writes about Jesuit scholar John Courtney Murray:

Whenever these issues come up, I’m reminded of the great Jesuit scholar John Courtney Murray,
who almost single-handedly developed the Catholic distinction between
Church and state (ironically, modeled on the American constitution’s
view of the issue) that was approved at the Second Vatican Counsel. A
key piece of his puzzle was the argument that Catholics should not
oppose anti-contraception legislation because it is considered a matter
of private morality. He never assumed a position on abortion in his
writings, and Catholics have continuously argued over how his complex
intellectual legacy affects the hot-button religious-political issue of
our day. Unsurprisingly, pro-life Catholics argue that the framework he used to justify his positions would not apply to abortion, while others argue that, in fact, it does. Here’s food for thought from a memo Murray wrote about contraception legislation:

… from the standpoint of morality Catholics maintain
contraception to be morally wrong; and … out of their understanding of
the distinction between morality and law and between public and private
morality, and out their understanding of religious freedom, Catholics
repudiate in principle a resort to the coercive instrument of law to
enforce upon a whole community moral standards that the community
itself does not commonly accept.
The conclusion might be an exhortation to Catholics to lift the
standards of public morality in all its dimensions, not by appealing to
law and police action, but by the integrity of their Christian lives.
This, to set the birth-control issue in its proper perspective.

Murrray, of course, did not and does not create Catholic doctrine
(and neither do I, certainly). But there are many on the religious
right and left who are seeking to create a broader understanding of
what it is to be “pro-life,” and finding it not incompatible with the
decision to be “pro-choice,” or to support of Barack Obama. For further
consideration about the role of religion in politics, I’d recommend
this speech by the senator.


Abortion: Decisions Made in the Shadows

In our election daze we missed a great little piece in last Friday’s New York Times that looks at the typical American woman having an abortion:

I had long assumed it was someone like Juno — the title character of
the recent popular movie — a teenager in high school who finds herself
pregnant and is not ready to raise a child.

This is wrong. The typical American woman having an abortion
is a parent of one or more children (60 percent); in her 20s (57
percent); has never married (67 percent); is economically disadvantaged
(57 percent); lives in a metropolitan area (88 percent); considers
herself a Christian (70 percent); and has graduated from high school
(87 percent) and attended at least some college (57 percent).

These numbers are illuminated by the short personal stories of three women who have had an abortion. I encourage you to click on over to read them.