NRL News

For multiple reasons Gallup Data Offers Hope to Pro-Lifers

by | Jun 14, 2012

By Michael J. New

Editor’s note. There is still time to register for the National Right to Life convention June 28 -30 and to reserve a hotel room at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in  Arlington, Virginia. Just go to

The May 23 Gallup survey which showed a significant decrease in “pro-choice” sentiment has received plenty of media attention. The percentage who self-identified as pro-choice had fallen to 41 percent, an all-time low. By contrast, the pro-life position reached the 50 percent threshold, only one point lower than the all-time high.

On May 29  Gallup released some additional data from that survey that, unfortunately, has received considerably less coverage.  Gallup’s announcement specifically highlights various demographic groups that are strongly “pro-choice,” including the non-religious and those with post graduate degrees.

This new data demographically breaks down the results of the original abortion survey. Most of these results are unsurprising to people who are familiar with abortion opinion data. Christians, southerners, those over 55, low income earners, and those with less formal education are more likely to be “pro-life.” Conversely, those who espouse no religion, women of reproductive age, and high income earners are more likely to describe themselves as “pro-choice.”

However, the demographic breakdown does offer a few surprises. First both men and women self-identify more as pro-life than they do pro-choice and the pro-life numbers for both genders had grown since last year. Men are more likely than women to self-describe as pro-life in this survey. Among men the split is 53/38, among women the split is 46/44.

While that may be consistent with conventional wisdom, it contradicts previous surveys which found fairly consistent abortion attitudes across genders.

Also, at one point high income earners were much more likely to be “pro-choice” than low income earners. However, as the Republican Party has become more uniformly pro-life — and the Democratic Party more uniformly supportive of legal abortion — income has become less strongly correlated with abortion attitudes.

Finally, many previous surveys shows that old people were much more likely to be pro-life than young people. This trend is still apparent in the Gallup survey. However, the differences between age groups have become less dramatic.

There is also interesting data from the General Social Survey (GSS) which shows that young adults may actually be more willing to oppose abortion in specific circumstances than other demographic groups. In its release, Gallup also compares abortion attitudes between 2001 and 2008 to abortion attitudes between 2009 and 2012. The only demographic group that failed to become more pro-life during this time span was those that espouse no religion. Men, women, all regions, all age groups, and people of all educational levels all became more pro-life.

Interestingly, the size of the pro-life gain was fairly consistent across all these demographic groups. That might be the best news of all for pro-life activists.

Michael New is an Assistant Professor at The University of Michigan –– Dearborn, a Fellow at the Witherspoon Institute, and an Adjunct Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

Categories: Polling