A month ago, Harris Decima found that Canadians were evenly split on whether abortion should be part of the government’s maternal health initiative (48% opposed to including abortion, 46% in favour) but now 58% say abortion should be included while just 30% think it should not. The Canadian Press report on the Harris Decima poll:
A new poll suggests that a majority of Canadians opposes the Prime Minister’s refusal to fund safer abortions in developing countries, even as international concern grows about the state of his G8 maternal health initiative.
The Canadian Press-Harris Decima poll found that 58 per cent of respondents oppose Mr. Harper’s exclusion of abortion funding in his drive to improve maternal and child health in poor countries.
That’s up from about 46 per cent in March, when a similar question about aid for abortion access was asked. The increase suggests people are taking their time to think through the complex pros and cons before making up their minds, said Megan Tam, vice-president at Harris-Decima.
My biggest problem with pollsters is not their polls but their analysis and once again I think Megan Tam is off the mark. I doubt that many people have sat down and thought through the issue; the pro-life side is hardly being made in the public square by politicians or pro-life/religious leaders, at least not in a way that is making it through to the general public via the mass media. The movement on this issue is mostly the result of non-stop media coverage of Liberal talking points and hammering away at the government for being ideologically anti-women. To some degree, the maternal health debate now reflects not a carefully considered view of abortion as a part of development aid, but domestic views about abortion.
But even if the poll was an accurate description of how people have thought about the issue and come to particular conclusions, I’m not sure it is all that meaningful; there is no indication that those who are opposed to the government’s plan sans abortion are willing to vote based on the issue or come to a larger conclusion about the government because of it. (I’d go so far as to say that those who oppose abortion are more likely to cast their ballot based on this initiative than the average voter.) Furthermore, according to public opinion polls on the political parties, this policy has obviously not harmed the Conservatives; they remain 6.5% head of the Liberals according the latest Ekos poll.