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Time Mag Cites Junk Poll on Taxpayer-Funding of Abortion

3:53 PM, Jul 9, 2009 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Time's Karen Tumulty concludes her latest column with some rather surprising figures:

On July 6, the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) released a poll of 1,000 likely voters conducted by the Mellman Group indicating that 71% favor including reproductive services such as birth control and abortion as part of health reform. The poll also found that 75% believe an independent commission should determine what medical services are covered among the basic benefits offered under health reform. (Congress is also considering giving that power to the Health and Human Services Secretary.) Said NWLC vice president Judy Waxman: "Congress should refrain from practicing medicine and instead let medical professionals determine what health-care services will be included in a benefits package."

This is surprising because a slight majority of Americans think that abortion should be illegal, except in the cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother. The suggestion that 71 percent of Americans want their tax dollars to fund abortions through government-run health-care would therefore seem absurd on its face.

According to a February Gallup poll, only 35 percent of Americans supported Obama's move to rescind the Mexico City Policy, which barred funding to groups that perform or promote abortions overseas. A recent poll conducted for Americans United for Life by the Polling Company showed that 71 percent of Americans oppose "using tax dollars to pay for abortions here in the United States."

Tumulty notes that "all but 17 states" have banned the use of tax dollars to pay for abortions through Medicaid. Taxpayer-funding of abortion is so unpopular, in fact, that only four states have voluntarily elected to do so--the other 13 were ordered by judicial fiat to fund abortions.

So how did the National Women's Law Center manage to concoct a poll showing that 71 percent of Americans support abortion coverage in a national health-care plan? I suspect the wording the pollsters used was intentionally designed to skew the numbers. Tumulty's wording makes it seem as if the question conflated support for covering birth control and abortion.

A National Women's Law Center spokesperson refused to provide the text of the questions polled to THE WEEKLY STANDARD, but she did send along this press release, which was apparently all Tumulty needed to confirm her own preconceptions about how much Americans love abortion.