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.
This is most welcome good news. While so much of the world moves in the direction of aborting the most innocent among them, Americans are moving in the direction of life for their most innocent. And the trend that Gallup recorded above is not an outlier, either:
Americans’ recent shift toward the pro-life position is confirmed in two other surveys. The same three abortion questions asked on the Gallup Values and Beliefs survey were included in Gallup Poll Daily tracking from May 12-13, with nearly identical results, including a 50% to 43% pro-life versus pro-choice split on the self-identification question.
It’s particularly interesting that this pro-life shift is happening now, when America has its most pro-abortion president. Back during the campaign, Obama said he wouldn’t want his daughters to be “punished with a baby.” That statement may not be a reason for this pro-life trend, but the concept that a baby, no matter how inconveniently timed or imperfect, is a form of punishment does not sit well with many people. No matter what the reason, I hope the trend continues.
And this should be a very important lesson for the GOP. Republicans need to stop running away from their conservative core principles. When pundits and media types say the GOP should become more moderate in order to expand its tent, their motivations are to undermine the GOP, not help it.