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Over at The Federalist, Daniel Friedman tries to explain why, despite the devastating video expose of Planned Parenthood, that nothing really happened to curtail abortion. He has some interesting observations about the videos and how they were presented that make a plausible case for why the videos haven't moved the needle very much, in the short run, on abortion. Gallup, for instance, finds percentage of people who describe themselves as "pro-abortchoice" has hit 50%, the highest level since 1997.

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But if you scratch inside that number, you find that division between abortion-on-demand/abortion-with-limitations/no-abortion remains fairly constant.

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In fact, the polling is generic enough to be useless in discussing abortion and more closely resembles trolling. When you drill down into values you find America is very conflicted on abortion and in the long run these videos may have an impact.

The survey found that more than 8 in 10 Americans (81 percent) would restrict abortion to — at most — the first three months of pregnancy. This includes 82 percent of women polled and nearly two-thirds (66 percent) of pro-choice supporters.

 

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By a 25-point margin (55 to 30 percent), Americans say that abortion ultimately does a woman more harm than good. A similar proportion of women (56 percent to 31 percent) agree. More than 1 in 4 (27 percent) who identify as pro-choice also share this view.

Six in 10 Americans (60 percent), including 61 percent of women, say abortion is “morally wrong.” One-third of pro-choice Americans agree.

But the real reason that the videos had no impact is much more prosaic. The number of actual pro-life politicians is very small. I'm not talking about the people who talk about being pro-life, I'm talking about ones who actually give a rat's ass about the issue. The overwhelming majority of the GOP in the House and Senate are pro-life only when it comes to giving speeches and asking for money. When it comes time to actually do something, they are as pro-abort as Nancy Pelosi or Barbara Mikulski. They will engage in endless rounds of failure theater to give the illusion of doing something but they don't want to win legislative or legal battles, they want an issue to fundraise on. Just a year ago (it will be one year tomorrow) the House seemed poised to ban late term abortion. There is nothing radical about this. Roe v. Wade's bizarre trimester scheme gives the state a compelling interest in abortion at that point. One of the truly good things about the bill was that if someone was claiming the rape/incest exception applied, they had to report the crime to the police. This seems common sense, as the Democrats are so fond of saying. Yet a group of GOP Congresswomen banded together to scuttle the bill even though, wait for it, all of them tout their pro-life beliefs.

So maybe the videos didn't create the popular outrage that resulted in abortion going away, but I think they probably have contributed to changing hearts and minds over time. But the real reason that the abortion industry is safe is that allegedly pro-life GOP senators and members of congress would rather leave the evil intact for political gain.