The Choosiest Choice Of All

Passed the below sign on the way home today.

After the well-documented opposition to Youth Defence’s shoddy employment of “data” to make their pro-life points, you think the Pro Life Campaign would have learned their lesson.

I thought the assertion “79% of women want Fine Gael to keep its pro-life commitments” was a little high, but what I was more concerned about (as a journalism graduate and theatre writer) was the convoluted wording of the statement. And with a quick look at their news section it became clear why:

“The research was carried out on a quota controlled sample of 979 people aged 18+ between 2nd – 15th May 2012.

The first question reads:

Just prior to polling day in the 2011 General Election, Fine Gael said it was opposed to the legalisation of abortion and experimentation on human embryos. It said that Fine Gael’s representatives would bring to the proposed all-party committee a clear commitment that women in pregnancy will receive whatever treatments are necessary to safeguard their lives, and the duty of care to preserve the life of the baby will also be upheld.  Would you agree or disagree with this commitment?

Overall, of those who expressed an opinion, 80% agreed with the commitment and 20% disagreed.  In Connacht/Ulster which includes the Taoiseach’s constituency of Mayo, 87% agreed and only 13% disagreed.

The second question was worded as follows:

Current medical practice in Ireland does not allow the deliberate killing of the unborn baby.  In a crisis pregnancy situation, the doctor has a duty of care towards the baby when intervening to save the mother’s life.  Do you consider that this ethical practice should be protected by law?

78% of those who expressed an opinion said it should and 22% disagreed.  There was majority support in all ages, social classes and regions.”

As pointed out by Tom Lowe on Broadsheet, the omission of the people who don’t express an opinion is a misuse of data – like omitting undecideds from an election poll.

The more obvious problem to me is the wording. The words “unborn baby” are emotive, yes, but the bigger concern is that both questions use terms like “duty of care”, “ethical practice” and “commitment”.

Let me be clear about this: you cannot have a poll on abortion without using the word abortion. That would be incorrect.

Then again…

“The information is provided by the Pro Life Campaign and while we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.”

Well that makes everything okay.


About alfla

Playwright, screenwriter, sometime improv enthusiast and full-time television lover. You know, in THAT way.
This entry was posted in Hey Look At This, Sober Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Choosiest Choice Of All

  1. Darragh Conway says:

    Nice blog Alan. Even as one of those unfortunate enough to have gained a passable understanding of the concept of duty of care, these questions leave me a little perplexed and wanting for a bit more definition, not least as a duty of care can range very widely from a simple duty not to cause easily avoidable harm, to a much more onerous duty to take extensive measures to avoid any harm whatsoever.

    But then, I am sure the good people of Connacht/Ulster have a healthy understanding of the particular duty of care involved here. Right?

    • alfla says:

      Thanks very much Darragh. Yeah it’s hard to think of ways the question could have been more convoluted to be honest. Do you want doctors to extend duty of care? Of course, that sounds responsible.

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