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Friday, March 12, 2010

Marie Stopes - yet another misleading abortion poll in Ireland

When it waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck. Abortion-provider Marie Stopes’ YouGov poll on abortion, released earlier this week, scored high on quackery.

If you ask a loaded question, you get a loaded and so worthless answer. Loaded with what? Loaded with false presuppositions that are never spelt out to the respondent.

The latest Marie Stopes poll claims three quarters of the Irish public support abortion in certain circumstances. The poll makes no distinction between necessary medical interventions in pregnancy and induced abortion, where the life of the unborn baby is directly targeted.

When a poll asks misleading questions, the answers measure how far the questioner has misled the respondents. If your question implies that women’s lives and health are at risk because abortion is not available, then you are inviting the answer, ‘Of course, abortion should be available to save those women’s lives.’ But that’s a loaded question. It is loaded with a false presupposition.

The truth is that Ireland is the safest country on planet earth for a woman having a baby. We have the best, the best, maternal safety for the lives of mothers having babies in the world.

Opinion polls are supposed to be snapshots of public opinion not tools of ideological propaganda. When the public are asked straightforward not misleading questions on abortion the answer is overwhelmingly pro-life. In a 2009 IMS/Millward Brown poll commissioned by the Pro-Life Campaign, 63% of the public supported a prohibition on abortion while ensuring the continuation of existing practice of intervention to save a mother’s life. Only 16% said they were opposed to such a prohibition on abortion.

The pro-life community needs to understand what Marie Stopes and similar abortion advocacy groups are working at. The fact that their polls are misleading doesn’t seem to bother them. The fact also that a sizable chunk of the media is prepared to run with these type of polls without asking the tough questions makes it easier for Marie Stopes and others to create a public expectation that abortion legislation is inevitable. This highlights the necessity for groups like the Pro-Life Campaign to avail of every opportunity to set the record straight with the public.

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