In her January 27 nationally syndicated column, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter claimed that she had "never heard of anyone who thinks abortion should not be 'available' to save the life of the mother," and that such a "lunatic fringe of the pro-life movement" is "nonexistent." However, recent polling shows that a significant number of Americans favor making abortion illegal, even if the pregnant woman's life is threatened.
In her column, Coulter commented on remarks that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) made January 24 to family planning advocates in Albany, New York. Clinton said the following:
I, for one, respect those who believe with all their hearts and conscience that there are no circumstances under which any abortion should ever be available. But that does not represent even the majority opinion within the anti-abortion community. There are exceptions for rape and for incest, for the life of the mother.
Hillary went so far as to say she had "respect" for those who believe that "there are no circumstances under which any abortion should ever be available." I've never heard of anyone who thinks abortion should not be "available" to save the life of the mother. There was never a law in any state that prohibited abortion to save the life of the mother. If Hillary "respects" even this (nonexistent) lunatic fringe of the pro-life movement, she must adore the rest of us!
But according to a Los Angeles Times poll conducted January 15 through January 17, twelve percent of all respondents said that they believed abortion should be made illegal without exception when asked: "Which comes closest to your view on abortion: Abortion should always be legal, or should be legal most of the time, or should be made illegal except in cases of rape, incest and to save the mother's life, or abortion should be made illegal without any exceptions?" Further, 20 percent of the "self-described Republican" respondents and 18 percent of the "self-described conservatives" held this view of abortion. An ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted December 16 through December 19, 2004, that asked, "Do you think abortion should be legal in all cases, legal in most cases, illegal in most cases, or illegal in all cases?" found that 17 percent of all respondents believed abortion should be illegal in all cases.
Even a poll that Coulter herself cited in her column to support her claim that "abortion has only become less popular" since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision -- a Los Angeles Times poll from 2000 -- found that eight percent of all respondents and 15 percent of conservative respondents believed abortion should be made illegal without exception. (The 2000 poll asked the following question: "Which comes closest to your view on abortion: Abortion should always be legal, or should be made illegal except in cases of rape, incest and to save the mother's life, or abortion should be made illegal without any exceptions?")
Additionally, candidates for Congress who have opposed abortion in all cases, including when the life of the woman is at risk, have received significant electoral support. In the November 2004 election, according to questionnaires compiled by the 100% Pro-Life Political Action Committee, Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Wisconsin Tim Michels and Republican U.S. House of Representatives candidate in Missouri Bill Federer both indicated they would not vote for a bill that permitted abortion if the life of the pregnant woman was at risk. Michels answered "No" to the question, while Federer responded: "No; I am not in favor of abortion but premature delivery in the case where the mother's life is in danger so the effort is to save both lives!" Though both candidates lost, Michels received 44 percent of the vote, while Federer received 45 percent. The 100% Pro-Life Political Action Committee contends that "all human life is sacred and must be protected by law," and that "[t]he compromise strategy of tolerating exceptions for abortion such as rape, incest and life of the mother or accepting the lesser of two evil candidates as worthy of a vote undermines rather than promotes this conviction."