For First Time, Majority of Americans in Gallup Poll Identify as Pro-Life
Part Two of Two
By Dave Andrusko
"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."
From Gallup Poll, May 15
Last Friday Gallup released the results of its latest abortion poll and revealed that, for the first time since it began asking the question, a majority of Americans self-identify as pro-life.
As reported/interpreted by Gallup's Lydia Saad, we learn that 51% of Americans describe "themselves 'pro-life' on the issue of abortion and 42% 'pro-choice.'" A year ago the numbers were virtually reversed: 50% were pro-choice and 44% pro-life. Gains were especially pronounced among Republicans. But there was majority pro-life sentiment expressed by both sexes as well as by Protestants and Catholics, according to Saad, reflecting similar strong gains.
To give some context, when Gallup first asked this question in 1995, a whopping 56% said pro-choice to only 33% who said pro-life.
Respondents were also asked which abortions they thought should be legal. Remarkably, as many Americans said they oppose all abortions (23%) as said they support all abortions (22%).
Rarely mentioned in press accounts is that of the 53% in the middle who say abortion should be "legal only under certain circumstances," more than two-thirds of them (37%) support abortion only "in a few cases."
This is the latest survey evidence that Americans are rethinking their position on abortion. (See below.) But why the dramatic shift?
In one of the great understatements of recent times, Saad writes, "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."
Think of it this way. The Media Establishment works overtime to portray Obama as a raging moderate, a middle-of-the-roader who is no more interested in promoting abortion (or "starting a culture war") than he is bankrupting the American economy.
But people aren't stupid. Equally important, they have access to the truth from places like this, and hundreds of other blogs. They are beginning to grasp that there is total disconnect between Obama's can't-we-all-just-get-along rhetoric and his policies which can have no other result except to vastly multiply the number of abortion.
Increasingly, if this is the face of "pro-choice," Americans are taking the immortal position of the legendary film producer Samuel Goldwyn to "include me out."
So what do these results from Gallup's survey (conducted May 7-10 of 1,015 national adults, aged 18 and older) tell us? Let me address six major points.
1. The massive turnaround means pro-life self-identification surpassed 50% for the first time ever. Previously, Saad writes, "the highest percentage identifying as pro-life was 46%, in both August 2001 and May 2002."
2. As mentioned above, when given options about which abortions they believe should be legal, 23% said abortion should be illegal in all circumstances (previously 17%) as compared to 22% who said it should be legal under any circumstances (previously 28%).
This in line with a recent national survey by the Pew Research Center which "recorded an eight percentage-point decline since last August in those saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases, from 54% to 46%," Saad writes. "The percentage saying abortion should be legal in only a few or no cases increased from 41% to 44% over the same period. As a result, support for the two broad positions is now about even, sharply different from most polling on this question since 1995, when the majority has typically favored legality."
3. But the fascinating numbers are ones that rarely get teased out from the data. 53% said abortion should be "legal only under certain circumstances." But what does that really mean?
Gallup probed this 53%, asking, "Do you think abortion should be legal in most circumstances or only in a few circumstances?" It turns out that 37% said only in a few circumstances while only 16% responded in most circumstances.
This means that 60% believe that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances (23%) or legal in only a few circumstances (37%).
4. Who is changing their expressed view? According to Saad, "The percentage of Republicans (including independents who lean Republican) calling themselves 'pro-life' rose by 10 points over the past year, from 60% to 70%, while there has been essentially no change in the views of Democrats and Democratic leaners." But there are other changes that are more significant.
5. "A year ago, Gallup found more women calling themselves pro-choice than pro-life, by 50% to 43%, while men were more closely divided: 49% pro-choice, 46% pro-life," Saad write. "Now, because of heightened pro-life sentiment among both groups, women as well as men are more likely to be pro-life." Specifically, women now self-identify as pro-life 49%-44% while men self-identify 54% 35%.
6. Obama's commencement address at Notre Dame was part of his ongoing attempt to divide and conquer the Christian community. But according to Gallup, there has been a seven-point pro-life gain among Catholics (from 45% to 52%), and an eight-point gain among Protestants (from 51% to 59%). Were the figures broken down still further to analyze the opinion of very regular church attendees, the percentage of self-identified pro-lifers would be higher.
And Obama is just getting started. As explained by NRLC, "Democratic congressional leaders, who are currently in control of both houses of Congress, are working with the Obama White House behind closed doors to craft 'health care reform' bills -- legislation that Barack Obama has already pledged will incorporate expansive pro-abortion provisions." And although he made the usual "moderate"-sounding noises yesterday, Obama has set his sights on the right of physicians not to be involved in abortion in any way.
It'll take a while, but sooner rather than later, most Americans will understand that Planned Parenthood and NARAL never had a friend in the White House like Barack Obama. And as they do, the number of self-identified pro-life Americans will continue to mount.
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Part One --
Reflections on Obama at Notre Dame and the
Gallup Poll Results