Fuzzy Math: CNN Misleadingly Claims 80 Percent Want Abortion 'Kept Legal'

On Wednesday's New Day on CNN, co-host Alisyn Camerota took a Gallup poll that indicates a majority of Americans lean against most abortions being legal and tried to spin the numbers into a pro-abortion result as she misleadingly claimed that "eighty percent of respondents believe that abortion should be kept legal."

Camerota's wildly deceptive conclusion came during a discussion with Oklahoma Republican Senator James Lankford over the issue of defunding Planned Parenthood. At one point, she brought up the Gallup poll from last May and recalled some of the findings:

And then, finally, should abortion be legal? The first question is, "Yes, under any circumstances." Twenty-nine percent. "Yes, under certain circumstances." Fifty-one percent of respondents say yes. "Under no circumstances," only 19 percent of Americans say that.

Camerota notably omitted the word "only" from the wording of the second choice in the survey as it actually read "only under certain circumstances."  According to the survey, the relevant question posed was: "Do you think abortions should be legal under any circumstances, legal only under certain circumstances, or illegal in all circumstances?"

Without delving into the poll's further analysis of those who wanted abortion legal "only under certain circumstances," the CNN host ludicrously concluded:

So if you add up the first two categories, which are the yes categories, that's eighty percent of respondents believe that abortion should be kept legal. So it doesn't sound as though Americans' support is on your side.

After Senator Lankford expressed doubts about whether her characterization of the survey was accurate, Camerota further claimed that public opinion is moving in a more pro-abortion direction:

And here's what's telling about these polls. One was Gallup, obviously a very credible source. Two are Monmouth University, also a credible source. And what's telling is that these are recent. These are from the past month. Actually, the Gallup one is from May 10. So, in the past couple of months, in other words, what you're talking about, it used to be more evenly divided, but what we're seeing now is that it is the biggest discrepancy between, "Yes, abortion should stay legal," "Yes, people are more pro-choice than they are pro-life," than we've seen in eight years. So the tide seems to be turning away from your position.

In reality, the Gallup poll found that, of the 51 percent of Americans who believed abortion should be legal "only under certain circumstances," 36 percent believed abortion should be legal "only in a few circumstances." When added to the 19 percent who believed abortion should be "illegal in all circumstances," a 56 percent majority seemed to come down on the side of abortion being illegal under most or all circumstances.

With only 13 percent asserting that abortion should be legal "under most circumstances," added to the 29 percent who wanted abortion legal "under any circumstances," only 42 percent of Americans came down on the side of most or all abortions being legal.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Wednesday, August 5, New Day on CNN from about 7:20 a.m.:

ALISYN CAMEROTA: Senator, you say that they're selling human organs. Planned Parenthood says that these are donated to science. The middle man, the biotech companies say that these are donated to science. They have to get the consent of the woman in order to do this, and, by the way, if they don't, if they're not donated for scientific research, these are fetal tissue that's discarded. Do you believe it is better to have science and research work on fetal tissue in order to come up with vaccines, as they have, in order to find treatments and cures for Parkinson's or, say, Alzheimer's? Is donation to science better than discarding?
 
[SENATOR JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK)]
 
We spoke to Planned Parenthood's vice president this week who says that they comply with all laws. But let me, Senator, show you some public opinion polls on all of these issues because they are telling. Number one: Should scientists use fetal tissue for research? Fifty-eight percent of Americans polled say yes; 33 percent say no.
 
Let me show you the next poll I think you'll also find interesting. Should the government defund Planned Parenthood? Thirty-nine percent say yes; 49 percent say no.
 
And then, finally, should abortion be legal? The first question is, "Yes, under any circumstances." Twenty-nine percent. "Yes, under certain circumstances." Fifty-one percent of respondents say yes. "Under no circumstances," only 19 percent of Americans say that.
 
So if you add up the first two categories, which are the yes categories, that's eighty percent of respondents believe that abortion should be kept legal. So it doesn't sound as though Americans' support is on your side.
 
[LANKFORD]
 
And here's what's telling about these polls. One was Gallup, obviously a very credible source. Two are Monmouth University, also a credible source. And what's telling is that these are recent. These are from the past month. Actually, the Gallup one is from May 10. So, in the past couple of months, in other words, what you're talking about, it used to be more evenly divided, but what we're seeing now is that it is the biggest discrepancy between, "Yes, abortion should stay legal," "Yes, people are more pro-choice than they are pro-life," than we've seen in eight years. So the tide seems to be turning away from your position.

Congress Polling Abortion CNN New Day Alisyn Camerota


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