On the eve of President Bush’s Inauguration, NARAL, a major “abortion-rights” group, is condemning the president’s “dangerous and divisive anti-choice agenda” and claiming that “a majority of Americans supports a woman’s right to choose” – citing as proof the recent Associated Press/Ipsos poll showing a surprising 59 percent of Americans supporting Roe v. Wade.
The only problem is, AP’s poll results were obtained by giving survey respondents grossly inaccurate and misleading information about Roe v. Wade. Specifically, the poll, which was conducted Nov. 19-21, featured this statement: “The 1973 Supreme Court ruling called Roe v. Wade made abortion in the first three months of pregnancy legal.” In reality, of course, Roe legalized abortion throughout the entire nine months of pregnancy by striking down all laws restricting abortion in all 50 states.
Since most polls show that more Americans approve of earlier abortions than approve of later-term abortions, this misleading wording could be expected to skew the results of the survey, critics charge. The poll was conducted for the Associated Press by the market research firm Ipsos Public Affairs.
In response to criticism, both AP and Ipsos claim another almost-identical poll was conducted, minus the controversial wording – simply stating that Roe v. Wade “made abortion legal.”
But the new poll was not publicized. In fact, there is almost no evidence that this second poll actually exists, other than a brief mention toward the end of a general article by AP reporter Will Lester on the history of polling controversies.
When WND first contacted Ipsos Public Affairs on Dec. 15, media contact Brian Scanlon stated that the second poll had been conducted Dec. 3-5 – one day after WorldNetDaily reported on the initial, misleading poll – and said he would be glad to e-mail WorldNetDaily a .pdf document including a detailed analysis of the new survey and a side-by-side comparison with the original flawed poll.
But the promised information never came.
Eventually, after many further phone and e-mail requests to Ipsos for the information Scanlon promised, Thomas Riehle, Ipsos Public Affairs president, responded by sending the aforementioned Will Lester story. That story, titled “Poll answers don’t always reflect truth,” states that AP/Ipsos conducted a new poll with amended wording, but concludes by asserting that the changed wording didn’t significantly alter the results of the survey and that the new poll resulted in 57 percent favoring retention of the Roe decision.
Several subsequent requests to Riehle for the actual poll information Scanlon had promised went unanswered.
The errant poll wording has spread beyond the initial polls. Quinnipiac University recently conducted a poll parroting AP’s misleading wording. When contacted by WND, Doug Schwartz, poll director at Quinnipiac, said he was aware of the controversy and would “certainly consider it the next time we do a poll on this issue.” However, even with the errant wording that implied Roe permitted abortion only in the first three months, the Quinnipiac poll found that just 50 percent of registered voters nationwide want President Bush to nominate Supreme Court justices who would uphold Roe v. Wade, as opposed to 59 percent according to AP’s late November poll.
For some unknown reason, Ipsos Public Affairs does not list any details of the Dec. 3-5 correction poll – or even acknowledge its existence – on its website where all other AP polls are shown, even on the paid side of its site to which the news media have access.
Meanwhile, in the run-up to President Bush’s Inauguration, NARAL Pro-Choice America has been sending out e-mail alerts to its members and supporters citing the unusually high “pro-choice” response in the original, flawed AP poll as evidence that a “majority of Americans supports a woman’s right to choose.*”
That asterisk after “choose” refers to this note at the bottom of the page: “*In a recent AP poll, 59 percent of Americans think President Bush should nominate a Supreme Court Justice who will uphold Roe v. Wade.”
Sarah Kupelian is a reporter intern for WorldNetDaily.com.