One way abortion defenders try to claim the moral high ground or coax the undecided into taking their side is to frame the debate as one in which women are on one side and men need to decide if they are allies of women or not.
Overturning Roe, said my co-host Jill Filipovic last week on the podcast Left, Right, and Center, would be “terrible for women and people who care about women ...”
Do you care about women? Then you'll agree with me on abortion and Roe.
This sort of name-calling and identity-politicking is typical, but it's also a non sequitur. If you venture into a pro-life crisis pregnancy center, you will find it staffed entirely by women. The pro-lifers I know are explicitly motivated by seeking the good of women. We believe abortion harms women — both mothers and unborn girls.
What’s verifiably false in this identity politics play is the contention that all women disagree with Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion. Many abortion questions in many polls, to be sure, do show a large gender gap. But many show almost no gender gap at all. And on the last two questions currently before the Supreme Court, the most recent large surveys showed no gender gap at all.
The latest YouGov poll, for instance, asked, “Do you think a woman’s right to have an abortion is established by the Constitution?” That is precisely the question before the Supreme Court. Only 34% of men said yes, along with 35% of women. No statistically significant gender gap.
Only 8% of women said federal courts should decide the legality of abortion, compared to 13% of men. In this instance, there is a slight gender gap, but men are actually more supportive of Roe.
The specific law the court is deciding on is Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. Most women support a 15-week abortion ban, and there is no real difference between the sexes on this question.
The most recent YouGov poll asking when abortion should be illegal found that 65% of women believed abortion should be banned after 15 weeks of pregnancy. (Most of those women favored an even earlier threshold, but they at least wanted a ban after 15 weeks at most.) Compare that to the 63% of men who support a Mississippi-style ban. The minority that believed abortion should always be legal were also equally divided among the sexes — 23% of men and 24% of women hold that position.
So if you are a woman who rejects the pro-Roe side's absolutism on abortion as a constitutional right that states may never regulate, you are not alone. If you are a man who believes states can and should protect unborn babies, you have plenty of women on your side, and you should feel confident in rejecting the fallacious argument that you owe some kind of support to a position because an imagined majority of women support it.