Friday, May 15, 2009

A Majority Now Call Themselves Pro-Life

A new Gallup poll finds, for the first time since they start asking this question in 1995, that a majority of Americans describe themselves as pro-life. It's a slim majority: 51% pro-life, and 42% pro-choice.

I've always found surveys like this a bit misleading. When you look at how Americans respond to very specific questions, you find that while a majority want restrictions on abortion, relatively few want abortion completely illegal--and I suspect that even the 22% in this survey that want abortion illegal under all circumstances probably would consider it acceptable to save the life of the mother (which is the position of the Catholic Church, and just about all evangelical Christians with whom I have ever spoken). There is a similarly tiny percentage--23%--that wants abortion legal under all circumstances. The majority--53%--want abortion legal under some circumstances. By the standards of the most militant pro-lifers, that majority are "babykillers." But wanting restrictions on abortion means that they are hardly "pro-choice."

I am quite sure, however, that large numbers of Americans who are adamantly opposed to abortion under all circumstances, or who want restrictions on abortion, voted for the most vigorously pro-abortion President we have had in many years.

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