The number of Americans identifying themselves as pro-choice has hit a record low of 41 percent while those identifying as pro-life now stands at 50 percent, according to a new Gallup poll.
The previous low for the pro-choice label was 42 percent recorded in May 2009, when Gallup also reported 51 percent identifying as pro-life. Gallup has been polling on the question since 1995, when 56 percent said they were pro-choice and 33 percent pro-life. The gap has narrowed over the years to a point where they are relatively close in polls.
The poll result was welcomed by anti-abortion supporters. "There is a growing uneasiness across America regarding the poorly regulated abortion industry and the presence of an abortion mandate and an abortion-inducing drug mandate in the healthcare law. Americans value life, and this poll reflects that," Kristi Hamrick of Americans United for Life told Newsmax.
"Americans are even more pro-life than the growing gulf illustrates in the Gallup poll," she added.
"During the healthcare debates we saw that 7 in 10 Americans — pro-life and pro-choice — did not want to see their tax monies going to subsidize abortion, and we've seen tremendous support for common sense limits on abortion, such as limiting abortion after 20 weeks because of the health risks to women of a late-term procedure and requirements to involve loving adults in the abortion decisions of young girls.
"We also know that when it comes to voting, those motivated to protect life vote 2 to 1 compared to those who want unfettered, unregulated abortion," Hamrick added.
"Americans share AUL's belief that everyone should be welcomed in life and protected in law."
Gallup has found the pro-life position significantly ahead on two occasions, once in May 2009 and again today, the pollsters reported. “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.”
Gallup, which polled 1,024 adults from May 3 through 6, has found that since 2001 Republicans have consistently reported being pro-life while independents have been closely divided on the issue since 2009.
“Democrats' views on abortion have changed the least over the past 12 years, with roughly 60 percent calling themselves pro-choice and about a third pro-life,” Gallup found.
In reporting the numbers, Gallup noted that abortion has factored into a number of significant news stories in the past year including congressional efforts to end funding for Planned Parenthood and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer group’s suspension of funding for the group. Additionally, the Obama administration’s attempt to mandate contraceptive coverage in health plans for religious institutions such as Catholic hospitals and colleges also touched on abortion.
“Whether any of these controversies is related to the shift in Americans' identification as pro-choice or pro-life is not clear,” Gallup said.
“However, it is notable that while Americans' labeling of their position has changed, their fundamental views on the issue have not.”
Gallup polling has found that Americans views on the legality of abortion has held steady in the last decade.
“Gallup's longest-running measure of abortion views, established in 1975, asks Americans if abortion should be legal in all circumstances, legal only under certain circumstances, or illegal in all circumstances,” Gallup wrote.
“Since 2001, at least half of Americans have consistently chosen the middle position, saying abortion should be legal under certain circumstances, and the 52 percent saying this today is similar to the 50 percent in May 2011. The 25 percent currently wanting abortion to be legal in all cases and the 20 percent in favor of making it illegal in all cases are similar to last year’s findings.”
Gallup now plans to explore Americans' views on abortion in greater depth later this year, polling on such things as gender, age, and other demographic variables.
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