According to a new Gallup poll, 41 percent of Americans identify themselves as “pro-choice” — down from 47 percent last July, and at nearly the lowest level since Gallup started tracking the term in 1995. Gallup finds that 50 percent of those polled call themselves “pro-life,” also one point shy of the record high in 2009.
It must be noted that according to Gallup, the underlying moral view of abortion has not changed very much — though, even there, pro-life sentiment remains rather strong.
While Americans’ identification as “pro-choice” has waned over the past year, their fundamental views about the morality and legality of abortion have held steady. Half of Americans, 51%, consider abortion morally wrong and 38% say it is morally acceptable — nearly identical to the results in May 2011.
Perhaps the presence of a pro-choice president or the battle over the de-funding of Planned Parenthood, the Susan G. Komen Foundation kerfuffle and the Obama contraception mandate flap have gotten people more focused on the issue. But a lot of polling shows that this is a long-term trend. In 2009, for instance, only 24 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 to 29 believed abortion should be legal under any circumstances. In 2000, 28 percent believed it. And in 1990, 36 percent.
You can also see the shift in politics, as well. In 2011, states passed a record number of abortion restrictions, with 92 new laws taking effect in 24 states. This year, numerous states are gathering signatures for Personhood amendments. Furthermore, a number of state legislatures across the country have been trying to de-fund Planned Parenthood. How important it will be as a presidential election issue is yet to be seen.