How Are Pro-Lifers Faring in the Cultural Battle Over Abortion?

AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Are attitudes towards abortion changing? A recent poll seems to indicate that they are. It appears that a higher percentage of Americans are becoming more accepting of the practice. After enacting a series of anti-abortion measures over the past couple of years, it seems that pro-life forces could be having some trouble winning the messaging war over the issue.

A Gallup poll that was published recently indicated that a “record” number of Americans believe that abortion is morally acceptable. According to the report, 47 percent of respondents said they think the practice is morally acceptable while 46 percent stated they believed it immoral.

These results mark the highest percentage of Americans who believe aborting children is moral that Gallup has reported in two decades. The polling company noted:

Since 2001, the gap between these readings has varied from zero to 20 points. The latest gap, based on a May 3-18 Gallup poll, is slightly smaller than last year’s, when 47% thought abortion was morally wrong and 44% said it was morally acceptable. Americans have been typically more inclined to say abortion is morally wrong than morally acceptable, though the gap has narrowed in recent years. The average gap has been five points since 2013 (43% morally acceptable and 48% morally wrong), compared with 11 points between 2001 and 2012 (39% and 50%, respectively).

The poll also noted: “Democrats and political independents have become more likely to say abortion is morally acceptable. Sixty-four percent of Democrats, 51% of independents and 26% of Republicans currently hold this view.”

The study also revealed that about 48 percent of respondents indicated they wanted abortion to be legal, but with limits. Additionally, 32 percent believe it should be completely legal with no limits. Only 19 percent indicated they wished for abortion to be absolutely outlawed in the United States.

One point of interest is the attitudes of the 48 percent of Americans who believed abortion should be legal but with limits. The report does not specify what limits these individuals would place on the practice. How many were pro-life individuals who believe that abortion should only be legal in cases of rape or incest? Still, the results of the poll seem to indicate a change in opinions on the matter.

Conservatives and Republicans have been adamantly pushing back against the pro-abortion crowd on the hard left. Red states have succeeded in passing stricter laws on abortion. But it seems that those fighting for life on the right might be making the mistake of forgetting the cultural aspect of the abortion debate.

While government restrictions on abortion might seem like a victory for the conservative movement, it will only be temporary if they fail to win this battle in the culture. The right must use messaging that will enable pro-lifers to change hearts and minds on the issue. If not, the laws passed can be easily overturned when the hard left manages to convince more Americans to support abortions. If the GOP wishes to decrease the number of abortions, it might be better served by relying on persuasion more than the state.