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article imageGallop: Americans More Pro-life Than Pro-Choice

By Raymond Bochman     May 16, 2009 in Politics
For the first time, since Gallop started asking abortion questions in 1995, more Americans are identifying themselves as Pro-Life than those who are calling themselves Pro-choice.
Coming in the yearly "Values and Beliefs survey" Gallop found that 51% of Americans now identify themselves as Pro-life versus 42% calling themselves Pro-Choice. This appears to be a significant shift over last year where the result stood at 50% Pro-Choice and 44% Pro-Life. Prior to that the number for Pro-life respondents had only reached a peak of 46% in August 2001 and May 2002.
Respondents were given three choices about the legality of abortion. It was nearly a tie between those on the "extremes" of the issue. Those who believe the procedure should be illegal under any circumstances verses those who believe it should be legal under any circumstances. The numbers were 22% to 23% respectively. This has remained even like this since Gallop started asking the question. The middle option, those who believe abortion should be legal only under certain circumstances, has also remained steady at 53%.
Probing the middle position further the poll found that the highest percentage of the respondents believed that abortion should only be legal in just a few circumstances. The numbers confirm the results on two other recent surveys. That of the Gallop Daily Tracking poll, and a recent Pew Research Center poll.
In the Pew Poll there has been an eight point decline in those who say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. It declined from 54% to 46%. Those answering that abortion should be legal in only a few or no cases increased from 41% to 44% .
The increase in the polling numbers is due to increases among the members of certain groups. First the numbers among Republicans, including those independents who lean Republican, has gone up 10% from 60 to 70%. Also up are the numbers among those identifying themselves as Protestant or Catholic. For Protestants there has been a seven point increase and for Catholics the percentage for those calling themselves Pro-Life has gone up eight points.
When the numbers are broken down by gender 49% of women identify themselves Pro-LIfe versus 44% calling themselves Pro-Choice. The advantage also goes to the Pro-Life side among men. In this most recent poll 54% responding said that they are Pro-Life as opposed to only 39% for the Pro-Choice position.
Gallops bottom line of the survey is as follows.
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.
The results for the survey are gotten from telephone interviews with 1,015 national adults. The people responding were 18 years or older. The poll was conducted May 7-10, 2009. The poll has a maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.
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