PBS Uses Misleading Poll to Make Abortion Seem Popular

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On Thursday’s PBS NewsHour, in a pre-recorded piece, correspondent Stephanie Sy included the views of three pro-abortion activists without challenging their views, but she did find a reason to press the one pro-life activist on why she supports the Texas heartbeat law which bans most abortions.

The show also cited a misleading poll which questionably claims that most Americans oppose banning abortion after an unborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected.

After spending the first several minutes of the nine-minute piece including soundbites of abortion clinic workers fretting over women in Texas having to go to other states to get abortions, Sy was then seen speaking with Rebecca Parma of Texas Right to Life and asking how she could “justify” barring rape victims getting an abortion.

Sy then brought up a recent poll conducted by Marist which suggests that 58 percent of respondents oppose banning abortion after a heartbeat can be detected. National Review astutely pointed out that the awkward wording of the question may be causing some pro-lifers to voice opposition to the law because they want a more strict law that includes the early stages of pregnancy.

Without informing respondents of the details of current law, the question asks: “Do you support or oppose a law that allows abortions but only up to the time cardiac activity is detected about 6 to 8 weeks into pregnancy?”

Those who want abortion also made illegal within the first two months might voice opposition to such a proposed law, possibly thinking that it makes abortion more legal than it currently is. The survey even claims that 59 percent of Republicans oppose a heartbeat law.

But, in the past, polling by Marist has repeatedly suggested that more than half of respondents would support banning abortion throughout an entire pregnancy except in exceptional cases.

The PBS reporter then moved to a third pro-abortion activist, making sure to inform viewers that she does not regret her abortion and believes her life is better because of it.

ZORAIMA PELAEZ, PRO-ABORTION ACTIVIST: I was working full time, going to school part time in community college, and I learned that I was pregnant. I thought of my sisters immediately. My sister — my older sister and many of my loved ones were young mothers. And I saw how much they struggled to raise their children as single young mothers in safe, sustainable environments. And I knew that, you know, I wasn’t ready emotionally, financially to be a mom.

SY: She says she never regretted her decision. When Pelaez had her abortion, in Texas, the procedure was stigmatized, but accessible.

PELAEZ: I mean, I was past six weeks, definitely. I would not have been able to get abortion care in the state, and I don’t know if I would have been able to afford to go out of state.

Near the end of the report, the back and forth continued:

SY: Advocates for women’s right to choose are holding their breath during what may be only a temporary reprieve. How do you think things would have been different for you if you had been unable to terminate your pregnancy?

PELAEZ: I know almost for a fact that I would not have become the first person in my family to graduate from college — that I would not be in law school right now. And I would probably have not have met my husband and on the verge of starting a family of my own on my — on my own terms.

This episode of PBS NewsHour was paid for in part by Consumer Cellular. You can fight back by letting advertisers know how you feel about them sponsoring such content.

Transcript follows:

PBS NewsHour

October 7, 2021

STEPHANIE SY: The law provides an exception only for women facing medical emergencies. There is no exception for women who are victims of rape or incest. No exceptions. How do you justify that ethically, to force a woman to have the baby of her rapist?

REBECCA PARMA, TEXAS RIGHT TO LIFE: Yeah, yeah. Those situations are heartbreaking and tragic. At the end of the day, the question we ask at Texas Right to Life and what applies in this law is, it all comes down to: What is the preborn child? They are human beings from that moment of fertilization worthy of moral and legal protection, and that is regardless of the means of conception.

SY: The divide in beliefs on abortion in America is deep, but on how to enforce restrictions, much less so. A new PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll shows one-third of Americans support a law that bans abortion once cardiac activity is detected, but 74 percent of Americans oppose allowing private citizens to enforce such a law. Outrage over SB8 among women’s reproductive justice activists has spread across the country from Washington to San Francisco, and back in Austin, Texas where Zoraima Pelaez lives. She’s a reproductive rights advocate who had an abortion a decade ago.

ZORAIMA PELAEZ, PRO-ABORTION ACTIVIST: I was working full time, going to school part time in community college, and I learned that I was pregnant. I thought of my sisters immediately. My sister — my older sister and many of my loved ones were young mothers. And I saw how much they struggled to raise their children as single young mothers in safe, sustainable environments. And I knew that, you know, I wasn’t ready emotionally, financially to be a mom.

SY: She says she never regretted her decision. When Pelaez had her abortion, in Texas, the procedure was stigmatized, but accessible.

PELAEZ: I mean, I was past six weeks, definitely. I would not have been able to get abortion care in the state, and I don’t know if I would have been able to afford to go out of state.

SY: The new Texas law is effectively a ban on almost all abortions in the state, and that’s what the people behind it intended.

PARMA: We’re estimating that between 100 and 150 pre-born children and their mothers are being spared from abortion every day in Texas while this law is in effect.

SY: For now, the law is on hold, but the state of Texas is appealing. And Whole Women’s Health resumed abortion care for women up to 18 weeks pregnant today.

AMY HAGATROM MILLER, WHOLE WOMEN’S HEALTH: We opened our schedule to expand beyond that six-week limit in our Texas clinics already.

SY: Advocates for women’s right to choose are holding their breath during what may be only a temporary reprieve. How do you think things would have been different for you if you had been unable to terminate your pregnancy?

PELAEZ: I know almost for a fact that I would not have become the first person in my family to graduate from college — that I would not be in law school right now. And I would probably have not have met my husband and on the verge of starting a family of my own on my — on my own terms.

SY: Instead, for millions of Texas women of child bearing age, the terms will be set by how the next court, and likely, eventually the Supreme Court interprets SB8.

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