NRL News

Contrast between Gallup and Pew on the morality of abortion offers instructive lessons

by | May 12, 2017

By Dave Andrusko

We need not be sidetracked by the obvious fact that on most “moral issues,” Americans are decidedly more permissive than they were not so long ago. Our considerations are more targeted: what Gallup calls “doctor assisted suicide” and abortion.

On the former, the latest Gallup numbers (taken from Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs poll) talk about the percentage who say they find it “morally acceptable.”

On the one hand, that figure is now at its highest ever: 57%. On the other hand the figure in 2016 was 53% while it was 56% in 2015.

In other words the numbers have stabilized (albeit at a high number) in spite of a cavalcade of pro-assisted suicide initiatives and a media that can’t say enough good things about having a doctor help you kill yourself.

What about abortion? In popular media, there is no less of a drumbeat to “normalize” abortion. The Abortion Establishment couldn’t be happier.

But that has not been reflected in a larger percentage of Americans finding abortion morally acceptable. Gallup’s Jeffrey M. Jones tells us that 49% find abortion “morally wrong” as compared to 43% who say abortion is “morally acceptable.”

Last year the numbers were 47% morally wrong, the same 43% morally acceptable. Only once in 16 years (2015) have the percentages been the same.

Two quick thoughts. First “morally wrong” is an increasingly difficult characterization to use. As a culture, we tend to prefer something more neutral.

Second, Gallup’s numbers are very different from Pew’s. “More than four-in-ten Americans (44%) say having an abortion is morally wrong, while 19% think it is morally acceptable and 34% say it is not a moral issue,” Michael Lipka and John Gramlich tell us.

What explains the difference? One is the question. Gallup’s is more abstract: is abortion “morally wrong ” or “morally acceptable”?

Pew asks is having an abortion morally wrong or morally acceptable. Almost two and one-half times as many people say having an abortion is morally wrong as say it is morally acceptable.

Thanks to you, the public continues to agree that having an abortion is morally wrong.

Categories: Abortion
Tags: abortion