Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Public Attitudes and “Murder” as a Description of Abortion – A Response to Steve

In an earlier post, Steve wrote that “most citizens will think that the abortion murder rhetoric is out of place and they will think that the abortion issue (significant as it is) should not be politically privileged over issues such as the killings of civilians in war or allowing children to starve or other issues of significant moral consequence.” 

The truth of the matter, however, seems far more complex.  Indeed, the public appears much more open to the use of the term “murder” as an apt description for the act of abortion than Steve’s post suggests.  This article summarizes polling data from the 1990s through 2002 in which those agreeing with the statement that “abortion is murder” was (with one exception of 38%) always above 40% and as high as 57%.

Of course, even if the public thinks that it is correct to understand abortion as a kind of murder, they may not want to codify this understanding in the criminal law.  There are a variety of reasons that help explain this phenomenon, some of which have been explored in prior posts.  It is often difficult to own up to the consequences of what we know intuitively to be the case.


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