Fabulous news from Gallup, today:
The 41% of Americans who now identify themselves as “pro-choice” is down from 47% last July and is one percentage point below the previous record low in Gallup trends, recorded in May 2009. Fifty percent now call themselves “pro-life,” one point shy of the record high, also from May 2009.
So while the number of Americans considering themselves pro-life has remained steady since 2009, the number calling themselves pro-choice has dived. Click to enlarge:
Continuing on with Gallup story:
Gallup began asking Americans to define themselves as pro-choice or pro-life on abortion in 1995, and since then, identification with the labels has shifted from a wide lead for the pro-choice position in the mid-1990s, to a generally narrower lead for “pro-choice” — from 1998 through 2008 — to a close division between the two positions since 2009. However, in the last period, Gallup has found the pro-life position significantly ahead on two occasions, once in May 2009 and again today. It remains to be seen whether the pro-life spike found this month proves temporary, as it did in 2009, or is sustained for some period.
Decline in “Pro-Choice” Views Seen Across Partisan Groups
The decline in Americans’ self-identification as “pro-choice” is seen across the three U.S. political groups.
Since 2001, the majority of Republicans have consistently taken the pro-life position, but by a gradually increasing margin over “pro-choice.” That gap expanded further this year, with the percentage of Republicans identifying as pro-life increasing to 72% from 68% last May, and those identifying as pro-choice dropping to 22% from 28%. Still, Republicans’ current views are similar to those found in 2009.
That is a huge majority, which should, of course, be a confirmation to Republicans in political leadership to carry forth the pro-life mantle with great party support.
More huge news from Gallup about Independents:
The percentage of political independents identifying as pro-choice is 10 points lower today than in May 2011, while the percentage pro-life is up by six points. As a result, pro-lifers now outnumber pro-choicers among this important swing political group for only the second time since 2001, with the first occurring in 2009.
More broadly, since 2009, independents have been fairly closely divided between the two abortion positions, whereas for most of the 2001-2008 period, significantly more independents were pro-choice than pro-life.
Even among Democrats, the pro-abortion gains seen last year are more than wiped out. Pro-life support increased 7% in one year, while abortion support has dropped by 10%. Per Gallup:
Democrats’ views on abortion have changed the least over the past 12 years, with roughly 60% calling themselves pro-choice and about a third pro-life. Democrats’ identification as pro-choice was above this range in May 2011, but has returned to about 60% in the current poll.
Why? Gallup thinks all the attention on abortion has had the effect of turning people away from the “pro-choice” label:
Since 2009, Americans have been closely divided in their identification with the labels most commonly used by each side of the abortion debate, although twice in that time period, including today, the percentage identifying as pro-life has been significantly higher than the pro-choice percentage. This represents a clear shift from 2001 to 2008, when Gallup most often found pro-choice adherents in the plurality.
Abortion has been the focal point of some prominent news stories in the past year, including congressional efforts to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood because of its abortion services, as well as to investigate Planned Parenthood’s financial practices. There was also a widely reported controversy over the Susan G. Komen for the Cure cancer foundation’s temporary decision to suspend grants to Planned Parenthood pending the outcome of that congressional investigation. And the ongoing conflict between the U.S. Roman Catholic Church and the Obama administration over mandated health insurance for contraception is partially related to abortion, in that some contraception methods, such as the “morning-after pill,” can halt the development of a fertilized egg.
Whether any of these controversies is related to the shift in Americans’ identification as pro-choice or pro-life is not clear. However, it is notable that while Americans’ labeling of their position has changed, their fundamental views on the issue have not. If the advantage for the “pro-life” position persists in future Gallup updates on abortion, these would seem to be important factors to look at to help explain the shift in labeling.
Looks like Komen bet wrong when aligning itself back with Planned Parenthood.
Gallup’s latter point may or may not be true. According to its poll, Americans have slowly been coming to the conclusion that abortion should be curtailed “under certain” circumstances, while activists on both ends remain staunch. That said, the numbers on our end have been creeping up, while the number of hardcore abortion proponents has remained flat:
[HT: Susie of Pro Life in TN]