Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Proof that you can use statistics to prove anything

This blog entry from the US News and World Report blog pretty much exemplifies the reaction of most of the media to the recent Gallup poll on the subject of abortion, in which people who describe themselves as pro-choice made up 42% of the respondents while those calling themselves pro-life were 51%. This led to a hoot and a holler about how the "tide has turned" and now is the right time for Roe v Wade to be challenged, and that Obama needs to go with the flow of the populace and so on ad nauseum.

The US News article pays some lip service to the fact that the majority of Americans feel that abortion should remain legal. They disagree on when, but on the fundamental concept the majority still agrees.

But more than even that, there is another question from the poll that isn't being flaunted. And for good reason, at least if you're a right-winger.

With respect to the abortion issue, would you consider yourself to be pro-choice or pro-life?

Note the carefully worded qualifier. "WITH RESPECT TO THE ABORTION ISSUE." And here are the results from that question:

May 7-10, 2009
Pro-choice 51%
Pro-life 42%
Unsure/No answer 7%

May 12-13,2009
Pro-choice 50%
Pro-life 43%
Unsure/No answer 7%

The one percent change between the weeks could be accounted for many ways. It might have been a different geographical sample. It might have been that the question was asked right after a widely publicized event dealing in the subject. There are a lot of ifs here. The bottom line is, while the majority of Americans call themselves pro-life, they are not referring to it as an abortion-centered pro-life stance.

I'm pro-life in that I object to taking human life without really damn good cause. Like self-defense. Things like that. And I'm very pro-baby. Just ask some of the babies I'm friends with and make toys and hats for all the time. But I'm totally pro-choice. I don't see the contradiction.

And apparently, neither does a good percentage of the US population.

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