WASHINGTON (BP)–The American public’s support for Roe v. Wade has reached its lowest point since the Supreme Court issued that 1973 decision legalizing abortion, according to a new survey.
The Harris Poll reported 49 percent of more than 1,000 adults surveyed expressed support for Roe, marking the first time less than half of the population endorsed the ruling. Forty-seven percent opposed Roe, while 4 percent were not certain or refused to answer.
The result was achieved despite the question being phrased in such a way that respondents could easily interpret Roe to have legalized abortion only in the first three months of pregnancy. Instead, Roe — with a companion decision, Doe v. Bolton, issued the same day in 1973 -– had the practical effect of not only striking down all state bans on abortion but of legalizing abortion essentially for any reason throughout all nine months of pregnancy.
The Harris Poll results, which were announced May 4, followed by barely a week a survey that showed only 29 percent of Americans understand the status of legalized abortion under the Roe opinion. That survey, which was conducted in mid-April by the polling company inc./Woman Trend, found the following breakdown of inaccurate descriptions of Roe:
— 18 percent said it made abortion legal only in the first three months.
— 17 percent said it legalized abortion in limited circumstances.
— 15 percent said it made abortion legal in the first and second trimesters.
The Woman Trend survey also revealed 54 percent of those polled supported one of three typical pro-life opinions: Abortion should be banned under all circumstances; abortion should be prohibited except when the mother’s life is threatened; and abortion should be outlawed except in cases of rape, incest or endangerment of the mother’s life.
The lowest previous support for Roe in the Harris poll came in 1985 with 50 percent. The highest backing for Roe in the Harris survey came in 1991, when 65 percent of Americans said they endorsed the decision. In 1973, 52 percent supported Roe.
Harris also reported 52 percent of Americans opposed passage in their state of a law similar to the one recently enacted in South Dakota. That state banned all abortions except those to save the life of the mother. Forty-four percent said they supported such a law.
ANDREA CLARK DIES -– Andrea Clark, whose family fought for her life against a Houston, Texas, hospital’s effort to withdraw treatment, died May 7.
Clark, 54, had been in St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital since November with complications from heart surgery. The institution’s ethics committee decided April 19 to terminate life support for her in 10 days. While Clark depended on a respirator to enable her to breathe, she maintained her brain function and ability to communicate, her family said.
Texas law protected the ethics committee’s decision in support of a doctor’s determination that treatment for Clark was medically futile.
Members of Clark’s family protested the hospital’s plan to discontinue treatment. They gained hope Clark would be able to recover when Matthew Lenz, a doctor with privileges at St. Luke’s, took medical responsibility for her after a May 2 meeting of a treatment team at the medical facility, but she died within a week.
“We love her so very much, and we are going to miss her terribly,” Melanie Childers, Clark’s sister, said in an email to ProLifeBlogs.com. “We hope that the battle that we fought for our sister will bring to light and bear witness to the horrible acts committed in the name of ethics in hospitals across the state of Texas.”
EUTHANASIA UP AGAIN –- The Netherlands has reported an increase in the number of reported cases of euthanasia for the third consecutive year.
Physicians reported 1,933 deaths by euthanasia in 2005, the Regional Oversight Boards for Euthanasia reported April 27, according to the Associated Press. That was an increase from 1,886 cases in 2004 and 1,815 in 2003. It has been estimated reported cases represent barely more than half of all Dutch euthanasia deaths, according to AP.
In 2001, The Netherlands became the first country to legalize euthanasia. Belgium followed suit in 2002. Switzerland provides passive assistance for the terminally ill who seek death, according to AP. In the United States, Oregon is the only state that has legalized physician-assisted suicide.
It was revealed recently that The Netherlands will become the first country to legalize euthanasia for infants. A Dutch committee was expected to begin regulating the active taking of life in babies with “unbearable” suffering during the next few weeks, according to a March 5 report in the online version of the British newspaper The Times.
POSTERS CASE DECLINED –- The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review a lower court decision against anti-abortion activists who listed the names of abortion doctors on “wanted” posters.
The high court declined May 1 to accept an appeal by a group of activists who had established an Internet site titled “The Nuremberg Files” that included photos, names and addresses of some doctors who perform abortions. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in San Francisco, had upheld in 2002 a federal court’s ruling against the coalition but had reduced the damages from $108 million to less than $5 million, according to the Associated Press.
The case was American Coalition of Life Activists v. Planned Parenthood.