According to a new survey from the Gallup organization, a majority of Americans now call themselves pro-life for the first since the survey began in 1995. The margin of 51%-42% is outside the margin for error. Gallup has some interesting things to say about the results:
The new results, obtained from Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs survey, represent a significant shift from a year ago, when 50% were pro-choice and 44% pro-life. Prior to now, the highest percentage identifying as pro-life was 46%, in both August 2001 and May 2002.
Americans don’t want to ban abortion in every situation, but would like to see it restricted way more than it is at present:
So support for having abortion either outlawed altogether or allowed “only in a few circumstances” is at 60%, with only 37% in favor of completely unfettered abortion or allowing it in most circusmtances (the lack of definition of “most” and “few” could throw some doubt on the accuracy of the findings; however, the gap is large enough so that the basic result–that abortion should be a lot more restricted than it currently is–remains valid).
Self-identification as pro-life is up among both Protestants (no distinction between mainline and evangelical) and Catholics by eight and seven points, respectively. It says something about the effectiveness of episcopal and priestly leadership as well as catechical efforts in the Catholic Church that only 52% of Catholics–up from 45% a year ago–identify as pro-life (59% of Protestants do), a reality that ought to provoke some serious soul-searching in leadership circles. But at least the trend is heading in the right direction.
Gallup didn’t ask about specific policies, and in the past there’s been a lot of confusion among Americans regarding the intersection of the moral and legal dimensions of abortion. Nevertheless, this has got to be a heartening result for those who, given the direction that the federal government is going, may have been feeling discouraged.