Americans United for Life (AUL) has partnered with YouGov to survey 1,000 Americans on their opinions about abortion, fetal personhood, and legal rights for the unborn. YouGov conducted the survey between May 6 and May 13, shortly after someone leaked a draft opinion in the Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
The poll sample included Americans with a wide range of views about abortion. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they are pro-choice, 32 percent said they are pro-life, and 29 percent said they identify with neither label.
According to the poll results, a copy of which was provided exclusively to National Review, majorities believe in fetal personhood and believe that unborn children have a variety of rights. For instance, a combined 55 percent of respondents said they believe an unborn child is a person either from the moment of conception or within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Only 14 percent of respondents said they think an unborn child becomes a person at birth. An overwhelming majority (86 percent) say that the unborn child is a person by the time he or she can survive outside the mother’s womb.
Meanwhile, supermajorities believe unborn children have a number of rights, including the right to be born (80 percent), the right to be protected from violence or assault (89 percent), and the right to be protected against substance abuse (90 percent).
A slight majority (51 percent) said that abortion ends the life of a human being before birth, and 52 percent said they would support the Supreme Court “extending legal rights of personhood to unborn children.”
I think all of these are important findings. As encouraging as many of these results are, these findings also underscore why human rights shouldn’t ultimately be put to a vote—and why human rights aren’t won or lost simply because majorities shift.
Human rights are natural rights, meaning inherent in our nature as rational creatures. Our natural rights are naturally accessible to us by our rational, that is, reasoning, capacities.
A constitutional democracy like ours exists not for the purpose of enshrining ever-shifting majority preferences, but rather for upholding and safeguarding a political order that points to reality and to the rights we possess by our nature.