Fact Check: Justin Bernier says Connecticut favors abortion restrictions (False)
Justin Bernier speaks on WNPR's 'Where We Live' (Chion Wolf/WNPR Photo)
By Jordan Fenster, Staff Reporter
According to the most recent data on the subject, that’s not true.
There’s a surprising dearth of state-level polling on the subject of abortion, but a 2003 Quinnipiac University poll says just the opposite. In fact, according to the poll, Connecticut residents are more pro-choice than residents of other states.
“Connecticut voters are more ‘pro-choice’ than the country as a whole,” Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz said in a 2003 release. “While 69 percent of Connecticut voters say abortion should be legal in most or all call cases, only 55 percent of the nation feels that way.”
That’s in the first state to criminalize abortion, which Connecticut did in 1821. And more recent regional data supports that Quinnipiac poll.
A 2009 poll conducted by CBS News and The New York Times did not break down beliefs on abortion state-by-state but, regionally, residents of the Northeastern United States showed that 48 percent of those polled believe that abortion should be “generally available.”
There is not as much support for abortion rights across the nation.
The most recent Gallup poll reinforces Bernier’s assertion, but only if he were speaking on a national level. On a national level, 52 percent of those polled indicated that abortion should be “sometimes legal,” while only 25 percent believed that abortion should be “always legal” or, in Bernier’s words, without restriction.
It should also be noted that, in 2009, for the first time since 2004, when the Gallup organization began asking the question, more Americans self-identified as “pro-life” as opposed to “pro-choice.”
“As far as I know, no other group has done state-level polls,” said Christian Miron, director of NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut, though he believes, anecdotally, that Connecticut residents do favor choice, and fewer restrictions.
Miron pointed out that all five (current) members of the state’s Congressional delegation are pro-choice “and have voted that way,” as is Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and “our overwhelmingly pro-choice [state] House and Senate.”
“I think that people select representatives who most closely represent their own personal values,” he said.
Peter Wolfgang, president of the Family Institute of Connecticut agrees most Connecticut residents would identify as “pro-choice,” he said that it depends on what questions you ask and how you break down the issue.
“My sense is that pro-choice still has the edge in Connecticut,” he said.
But Wolfgang believes that if residents were asked about partial-birth abortions, sex-selection abortion and parental notification, pollsters “might be surprised at the results.”
“Even people who are pro-choice think it’s outrageous that a minor can get an abortion in the state of Connecticut without telling her parents,” he said. “But unfortunately, we’re at the mercy of Qunnipiac and UConn, and what polls they choose to put out. For whatever reason, Qunnipiac and UConn refuse to do an in-depth poll on abortion.”
Bernier said he based his statement made on WNPR not on polls but on “conversations with average voters who are both pro-life and pro-choice.”
He said when it comes to partial-birth abortion, parental notification and gender-selective abortions, he believes that “most people in Connecticut come down on those issues.”
What do you think about abortion rights in Connecticut? Do you agree with Bernier? Take this poll on abortion rights. Or discuss in the comments.
Email Jordan Fenster at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jordanfenster.