Life is Winning

on May 23, 2009

Gallup: “More Americans ‘Pro-Life’ than ‘Pro-Choice’ for First Time” For the first time in Gallup polling history, more Americans identify themselves as “pro-life” than “pro-choice.”

The poll, based on a survey of 1,015 U.S. adults, indicated that 51 percent of Americans identify themselves as pro-life compared to 42 percent identifying as pro-choice. This is a dramatic change from 1995, the first year the question was asked, in which 56 percent identified as pro-choice compared to only 33 percent identifying as pro-life.

56 percent identified as pro-choice compared to only 33 percent identifying as pro-life.

The results even mark a shift from 2008, when 50 percent of respondents identified as pro-choice, compared to 44 percent identifying as pro-life. Until this year’s poll, the highest tide of pro-life numbers was when the two camps were split evenly, with 46 percent apiece (in 2001).

Gallup also reported that extremists views at the two ends of the abortion rights spectrum have roughly equal numbers. Those who believe abortion should be legal under any circumstances stand at 22 percent, while those who believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances stand at 23 percent of respondents.

Other points of interest:

  • From a political standpoint, the majority of the pro-life shift has come from Republicans. The proportion of pro-life Republicans is up 10 percent, to a total of 70 percent, from its previous high of 60 percent over the last two years. On the other hand, the proportion of pro-choice Democrats has remained nearly constant (hovering around 60 percent) for the past decade.
  • From a religious perspective, the pro-life identification of those grouped as “Protestant/Other Christian,” “Roman Catholic,” and “Other/None” has increased across the board.
  • For the first time in nine years, men and women are both more pro-life than pro-choice as groups.

Interestingly, the pollsters conclude that the hard-line pro-choice stance of U.S. President Barack Obama, who has given no indication of compromise on the controversial issue, may be to blame for the increase in pro-life identification in the past year. Gallup’s Lydia Saad writes:

With the first pro-choice president in eight years already making changes to the nation’s policies on funding abortion overseas, expressing his support for the Freedom of Choice Act, and moving toward rescinding federal job protections for medical workers who refuse to participate in abortion procedures, Americans—and, in particular, Republicans—seem to be taking a step back from the pro-choice position. However, the retreat is evident among political moderates as well as conservatives.

It is possible that, through his abortion policies, Obama has pushed the public’s understanding of what it means to be “pro-choice” slightly to the left, politically. While Democrats may support that, as they generally support everything Obama is doing as president, it may be driving others in the opposite direction.

While the poll results are somewhat encouraging, it’s important to remember that opinions on the issue sway significantly from year to year based largely on variations among political moderates. Also, the poll clearly shows that abortion remains a controversial topic, with nearly a quarter of respondents still holding to the unconscionable view that abortion should be legal in all circumstances.

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