Both the pro- and anti-abortion movements are buzzing today following Gallup’s release of a new poll that claims a pro-choice majority amongst Americans. But, as with many mainstream assessments, there may be more to this conclusion than meets the eye.
Perhaps the most genuine nugget of truth included in the poll’s writeup is the very first line: “Americans are sharply divided in their abortion views, including on its morality, with an equal split between those who believe it is morally acceptable and those who say it is morally wrong.” Supporters of abortion have been quick to jump on this poll as a decisive victory, claiming it as “proof” that their insane agendas are popular.
But that first line almost seems to conflict with the thesis. This pro-choice majority is grossly overstated. 47% pro-choice to 46% pro-life is approximately the same half and half split that has been observed for years. The scale has tilted towards abortion ever so slightly in this latest poll, but again, there’s more to the story.
Dr. Michael New, a professor at Catholic University of America, is a prominent thought leader in the pro-life movement. He offered the following in an interview with EWTN…
According to a survey by @Gallup, a record high 47% of Americans think abortion is morally acceptable. @Michael_J_New from @LozierInstitute and @CatholicUniv, shares whether he thinks this is an accurate assessment of Americans’ attitudes on abortion and if there’s been a shift. pic.twitter.com/jHjmFPWcHU
— EWTN News Nightly (@EWTNNewsNightly) June 10, 2021
Americans Aren’t “All-In” for Abortion
Polls, in general, are a risky business. As anyone who has participated in the creation of a poll will know, it matters very much how you word the question. Asking someone if they’re pro-choice isn’t enough. Does that mean they support legal abortion but only in the first trimester? Up until viability? Up until the baby’s birth? Other data concludes that even pro-choice Americans support abortion with limits. And that’s where this discussion derives its nuance.
In a piece written for Live Action, Dr. New discusses this very problem, noting how poorly the poll questions were worded. Most Americans do not know that Roe v. Wade allows for abortion until birth, or that late-term abortion is legal in seven U.S. states, or even that reversing Roe wouldn’t make abortion illegal, but rather return the issue to the states. Because the poll did not address any of this, and utilized terms like “abortion bans,” the result was skewed.
Instead, Dr. New points to long-term trends that the reporting media are choosing to ignore. Dr. New wrote:
“Media coverage on abortion surveys often focuses on short-term fluctuations in public opinion. However, it is important to note that Gallup surveys consistently show long-term durable gains in pro-life sentiment during the past 25 years. In September 1995, only 33 percent of Americans identified as “pro-life.” Similarly, another Gallup poll conducted in July of 1996 found that only 36 percent of respondents identified as “pro-life.”
Regardless, the abortion industry, the abortion lobby, and pro-abortion politicians are going to take polls like this and use them to bash people over the head with radical abortion policy (think Colorado’s state law of “abortion up until birth for any reason”). But limitless abortion is decidedly NOT the majority opinion. Consider Students for Life’s own poll findings:
- More than 7 out of 10 millennials and Gen Z expressed support for limits on abortion.
- Almost 6 out of 10 oppose Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton when they learn they allow for abortion through all 9 months.
- Less than 2 out of 10 want unlimited abortion through all 9 months.
- Only 7 percent shared the position of the Democratic Party Platform – abortion without any exceptions and funded by tax dollars.
The Gallup Poll is Grasping at Straws
As the mainstream media has also pointed out, 2020 was a record year for the passage of state pro-life laws. Pro-life Americans are far more likely to base their vote on the abortion issue than pro-choice Americans. Our grassroots activists are far more involved, and as the graph above illustrates, pro-life opinion has risen dramatically over the past two decades. All of that to say… this poll isn’t the home run abortion supporters are painting it as. But they’ll see that soon enough.