New Poll Indicates Huge Swing In National Attitudes On Abortion But Ignores the Reason

CREDIT: Rachel Troyer. Public Domain image.

CREDIT: Rachel Troyer. Public Domain image.

As a rule I’m a skeptic about public opinion polling, particularly when it is about a rather subjective topic. A little over a year ago I posted on a poll (About That Poll Showing More Conservatives Than Liberals? Its Meaning Might Surprise You) that showed self-identified conservatives outnumbered self-identified liberals and used, by way of example, a poll by the Barna institute on religion in America. That poll showed that even though 70+ of Americans self-identify as Christian, over half of all “Christians” believed that Christ committed sins and a bare majority believed Christ was Divine.


So a new poll out by Marist showing a huge change in self identification as pro-life had me both curious and very skeptical.

By the numbers: The poll found Americans are now as likely to identify as pro-life (47%) as they are pro-choice (47%). Last month, a similar Marist survey found that Americans were more likely to identify as pro-choice than pro-life 55% to 38%, a 17-point gap.

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  • The survey also found that 80% of Americans support abortion being limited to the first three months of pregnancy, an increase of 5 percentage points since last month’s Marist poll.

Between the lines: Marist has been polling Americans’ attitudes on abortion for over a decade, and Carvalho told Axios this is the first time since 2009 that as many or more Americans have identified as pro-life as have identified as pro-choice.

  • But what Carvalho said she found most significant was that Democrats, specifically those under the the age of 45, seem to be leading the shift: This month’s poll found 34% of Democrats identify as pro-life vs. 61% pro-choice. Last month, those numbers were 20% and 75% respectively.
  • Among Americans under 45, 47% identify as pro-life vs. 48% pro-choice. In January, those numbers were 28% and 65% respectively.

“This has been a measure that has been so stable over time. To see that kind of change was surprising,” Carvalho said. “And the increased discussion [of late-term abortion] in the public forum in the past month appears to have made the biggest difference in how people identify on the issue.”


This trend has been sorta visible for a while. In January, another poll by Marist found that even people identifying as pro-choice were happy to put major restrictions on abortion.

According to a new Marist poll released on Tuesday, seventy-five percent of Americans believe that abortion should be limited to within the first three months of pregnancy.

Further, sixty-five percent – or nearly two-thirds – of Americans believe that if the Supreme Court revisits Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion throughout the United States, that either abortion should be made illegal or that states should be allowed to set their own restrictions on abortion law.

Between the two major political parties, 75 percent of Democrats self-identified as “pro-choice” and 70 percent of Republicans identified as “pro-life.”

In reality, what has changed is a small yet significant movement in actual beliefs (5 percentage point increase in the number of people who support banning abortion after the first trimester) but a major change in how people see themselves.

The article concludes that this is driven by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s gaffe in which he advocated killing babies born alive after an abortion and two state abortion laws, those in Virginia and New York, which make abortion legal up until the umbilical cord is severed. What they studiously avoid is President Trump’s State of the Union Address which graphically spelled out exactly what the Democrats are in favor of (President Trump Delivers A Strong Pro-Life Statement During His State Of The Union Address).


It is a safe bet that the State of the Union, more than media coverage of the New York and Virginia abortion laws, helped people redefine themselves from being pro-choice to being pro-life.
In fact, if you look at the major news coverage of Northam and the state abortion laws you find that backs were wrenched contorting what Northam said into a discussion of paliative care for infants with fatal congenital deformities and the Virginia and New York laws got virtually zero coverage of their implications and a lot of Planned Parenthood bovine bellowing about “choice.”

Will this be a lasting change? Who knows. The GOP is nothing if not gutless when it comes to protecting the unborn. If the modern GOP had been in existence in 1860, we’d still have slavery. Bu what it shows is that the more Americans understand about abortion the more willing they are to limit it. If we can get them to limit this atrocity, we can get it banned. But it all starts with politicians having Trump’s courage (I know, it was hard writing that) in denouncing the abomination of state sanctioned infanticide for what it is.


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