Two polls out in May and August note a significant movement in the American public's identifical with pro-life positions and views.
A newly released Pew Research Center Poll found:
For most of the last two decades, a clear majority of Americans has supported the right to abortion. A new poll, though, suggests that support for abortion may have declined, with the public almost evenly divided over the issue.
The apparent shift, which contradicts some other recent polls, appears in a poll by the Pew Research Center released on Thursday. A 2008 poll by Pew researchers had found that those in favor of keeping abortion legal outnumbered opponents, 54 percent to 40 percent. In the new Pew poll, the gap has narrowed: 47 percent of those surveyed said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and 45 percent said it should be illegal in all or most cases — a difference within the poll’s margin of sampling error.
The reason for the shift is? President Obama in the opinion of the Pew researchers.
The new survey did not find the reasons for the shift in opinion. But Pew researchers pointed out that the shift has occurred since the election of President Obama, a Democrat who supports abortion rights but has often spoken about the need to reduce the number of abortions. New York Times/CBS News polls, as well as others, found no such shift after Bill Clinton — also a Democrat who supports abortion rights — took office. Pew has no comparable data on the issue dating back that far.
Add in a Gallup poll and the shift is even more striking. Gallup found a significant shift in the number of people who identify themselves as pro-life v. pro-choice. And 60% of respondents believe abortion should be either illegal under all circumstances or legal under a few circumstances versus 37% who believe it should be legal under all circumstances or legal under many circumstances. Up from 57% to 41% in May of 2008.
A new Gallup Poll, conducted May 7-10, finds 51% of Americans calling themselves "pro-life" on the issue of abortion and 42% "pro-choice." This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.
The new results, obtained from Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs survey, represent a significant shift from a year ago, when 50% were pro-choice and 44% pro-life. Prior to now, the highest percentage identifying as pro-life was 46%, in both August 2001 and May 2002.
The May 2009 survey documents comparable changes in public views about the legality of abortion. In answer to a question providing three options for the extent to which abortion should be legal, about as many Americans now say the procedure should be illegal in all circumstances (23%) as say it should be legal under any circumstances (22%). This contrasts with the last four years, when Gallup found a strong tilt of public attitudes in favor of unrestricted abortion.
Though I think Obama's policies are awful in regards to abortion, I guess we can thank him for his "help" in moving overall public sentiment in the pro-life direction.