With more and more time elapsing since the Dobbs decision, public opinion on the ruling seems to be shifting.
In the days immediately following the reversal of Roe, mainstream media outlets began to paint a narrative that the overwhelming majority of Americans opposed this decision by the court. Plastered across every headline was a statement that this decision did not sit well with voters, which subtly implied that supporting abortion was a near-consensus opinion throughout the United States.
The issue with this insistence on supporting abortion being the “normal” opinion in the United States is the psychological pressure it places on individuals. If an individual feels that his or her beliefs are in conflict with the masses, said individual will feel compelled to re-evaluate his or her beliefs to better conform with the popular narrative.
This phenomenon is commonly referred to as the bandwagon fallacy. In simple terms, the bandwagon fallacy entails that someone is more inclined to believe what others believe, simply because others believe it. The bandwagon fallacy obscures the underlying thought process beneath a belief or belief system, causing individuals to write off their concerns because “everyone else believes it.”
Unfortunately, the media are well aware of this psychological pitfall, and they use it to push forward a notion (that a fetus is not a person) that would otherwise be incredibly difficult to defend from a purely logical standpoint.
However, as some of the buzz (and subsequent psychological pressure) around the abortion conversation has subsided since the Dobbs decision, new data show that public opinion on the issue may not be so one-sided after all.
Per a new Rasmussen Report released at the end of last month, a reported 52% of Americans now approve of the Supreme Court’s ruling that reversed the effects of Roe v. Wade. With a sample size of roughly 1,000 and a margin of error of +/- 3%, the most probable outcome of the range of possibilities from this survey is still the reported result.
Perhaps this may have to do with the framing of the question: other polls that produced much more pro-abortion results asked questions along the lines of, “Do you think abortion shold be legal in any cirucmstances?” while the Rasmussen Report, word-for-word, asked:
“Last year, the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, so that each state can now determine its own laws regarding abortion. Do you approve or disapprove of the court overturning Roe v. Wade?” (see here)
Once again, it becomes easy to see how other surveys can produce overwhelmingly pro-abortion results when there is an agenda to do so.
For example, an unsuspecting individual who believes that abortion may be necessary only as a tragic but life-saving medical procedure for the mother may feel compelled to answer “yes” to the example question given above, even though that same belief is a universal opinion on both sides of the conversation. However, despite that individual’s beliefs being pro-life, his or her response is now recorded as pro-abortion because of how the question was framed.
If the same individual were asked the second question, his or her response would have been firm approval, which the surveyor would have recorded as a pro-life response. Based on the way the question is asked, the same individual could have produced either a pro-life or pro-abortion response.
When this subtle psychological phenomenon is viewed in light of the media’s strong incentive to create a “bandwagon” narrative, the explanation for differing results on public opinion surveys becomes increasingly clear. Beneath the war over the unborn is a war on words, which has resulted in a troubling attempt to create a pro-abortion facade of the United States.