The Decline Of Pro-Choicers?


K-Lo sees "encouraging signs for life" in a new Gallup poll that indicates that 50 percent of Americans are pro-life (while 41 percent identify as pro-choice). Ed Morrissey goes further:

We may still see some hiccups and occasional spikes in the wrong direction, but the long-term prospects for abortion support look almost as grim as abortion itself.

Adam Serwer clarifies

[A] large majority—77 percent—of Americans support abortion being legal in all or "certain circumstances," and just 20 percent of Americans are actually "pro-life" in the sense that opponents of legalized abortion understand the term. … That's good news for someone, but not for people who want to outlaw abortion.

Jon Sides likewise points out that "for the right to abortion depends strongly on the circumstances of the pregnancy." Sarah Kliff wonders why fewer abortion rights supporters identify as pro-choice:

The modern [pro-choice] movement largely came into being to defend Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case legalizing abortion. It might be that a label developed 40 years ago might not speak to abortion rights supporters in a way it did for previous generations.

Ed Kilgore, on the other hand, discounts the poll:

The poll is likely an outlier, as the one in 2009 clearly seemed to be, particularly given the unusual stability over time of public opinion on abortion.

I take Kilgore's point about 2009 and about measuring nebulous things like being "pro-choice". But I think it's interesting and salient that public attitudes toward abortion have shifted slightly toward a more pro-life position in the last decade or so, and that this includes the younger generation. There isn't anything like majority support for banning it altogether as the GOP wants – but Americans seem more attuned the to gravity of the moral question here. Compare that with the issue of marriage equality. The only inference is that there are a lot of pro-marriage equality folks who are also anti-abortion. I don't want to criminalize abortion in the first trimester, but if I had to describe myself, I'd probably say "pro-life."