According to a new Gallup poll, 50 percent of Americans now consider themselves "pro-choice," while only 44 percent consider themselves "pro-life."
For the first time since 2008, pro-choice Americans maintain a significant lead on the issue, Politico reports. For the past five years, views have been close to evenly divided between the pro-choice and pro-life labels. Since at least 1995, American support for women’s right to choose largely dominated over pro-life support. But, in 2009, pro-choice Americans dipped from 50 percent to 42.
Gallup divided preferences on whether abortion should be legal into five categories: legal under any circumstances, legal in most, legal in only a few, illegal in all, and no opinion. Respondents were also asked whether they self-identified as "pro-choice" or "pro-life."
Twenty-nine percent of U.S. adults think abortion should be legal in all cases while 19 percent say it should be completely illegal. A minority of self-proclaimed "pro-choice" respondents, 4 percent, think that abortion should always be legal; in turn, 4 percent of self-identified "pro-life" respondents believe abortion should be legal under any circumstances.
Respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 identified as pro-choice in significant numbers compared to those ages 55 and older, leading by 6 percentage points. In contrast with polls conducted in 2001, middle-aged and older Americans are much more likely to be pro-choice today while young adults have been consistent.
Democrats have seen a substantial increase in support of reproductive rights since 2001. Up from 55 percent, the percentage of Democrats that now consider themselves pro-choice is 68. Republicans have gone up one percentage point, from 30 to 31, and independents have gone from 55 to 50 percent.
In the mid-1990s, pro-choice held a greater lead than today, but pro-life support surged after Barack Obama took office. According to Gallup, today’s views are similar to those found in 2001. Changes in public opinion on abortion have coincided with political and cultural events including anti-abortion violence, legislative efforts to ban “partial-birth abortion” or to limit abortion funding, and also some Supreme Court cases. These events may continue to cause views to fluctuate, but a broader liberal shift in Americans’ ideology means that the recent swell of pro-choice support may have the power to sustain, according to Gallup.
Gallup surveyed 1,024 adults via phone (cellphone and landline) between May 6 and May 10. There is a margin of error of 4 percentage points.