Abortion debate: Gallup says more Americans pro-life

A new Gallup Poll, conducted May 7-10, finds 51% of Americans calling themselves "pro-life" on the issue of abortion and 42% "pro-choice." This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.

President Obama's not the only one who's doing a lot of flipping and flopping lately. Apparently the American people are too.

Except we don't have a Robert Gibbs to stand up in front of a camera to explain that there's no change here -- it's what we've been saying all along.

New poll

For the first time since 1995, most Americans say they're pro-life. A new Gallup poll reveals that 51 percent of Americans identify themselves as such while 42 percent label themselves pro-choice.

These numbers reflect a big change from last year when 50 percent said they supported abortion rights, while 44 percent said they did not.

Respondents were asked, "With respect to the abortion issue, would you consider yourself to be pro-choice or pro-life?"


Although more individuals may be labeling themselves as pro-life, the survey also found that 53 percent said abortion should be legal under certain circumstances.

About an equal percentage balance out the wings with 23 percent responding that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances and 22 percent say it should be legal under any circumstances.

The GOP is responsible for most of the change, Gallup explains. The ranks of pro-life Republicans increased by 10 points over the last year, from 60 percent to 70 percent. While Democrats have remained constant.

Why the change?

Gallup explains it this way

"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."


Two days ago, last election's superstar pollster Nate Silver was discussing another poll showing a decline in support for abortion. He's not convinced that there's a real change in public opinion going on. If there is, he says, it's "occurring very slowly."

What's interesting is that he said there's "decent evidence" that those in Generation Y might be more pro-life than their older counterparts (Gen X and the Baby Boomers).

"This is in spite of the fact that young Americans are considerably more liberal than their peers on issues like gay marriage and marijuana legalization, issues on which there is more tangible evidence of "momentum" in favor of the liberal position," Silver writes. "There are evidently an increasing number of pro-life, pro-gay marriage Americans, particularly among Generation Y'ers, a position it would have been very unusual to encounter just a few years ago."


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