Obama Outside US Mainstream On Abortion
New Gallup Poll Shows A Slight Majority Of Americans Are Considered Pro-Life
By JOE MURRAY, The BulletinAs Barack Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame yesterday divided the Catholic campus, a new poll shows the president’s view on abortion could divide the country.
Fifty-one percent of Americans consider themselves “pro-life” and 42 percent say they are “pro-choice,” according to a new poll released by Gallup. This is the first time a majority of the nation has identified with the pro-life movement since Gallup started taking to the poll in 1995 when only 33 percent said they were “pro-life.”
“In recent years, we at Priests for Life have been saying that the pro-life movement is winning, and that one of the signs is the shift of opinion polls in our direction,” said Fr. Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life.
“This new Gallup poll reinforces that fact, showing the highest levels Gallup has ever measured of people indicating they are ‘pro-life’ and indicating that all abortion should be illegal.”
The poll documents a growing trend in U.S. public opinion concerning the legality of abortion. When the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion on demand in 1973, 22 percent of the country believed abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.
The number of Americans holding such a view hit a low in 1995-1996 when just 12 percent agreed abortion should be illegal under all circulates. But now the Gallup poll shows 23 percent support a ban on all abortions; the highest since Gallup started taking the poll.
As for those Americans believing abortion should be legal in all situations, just 22 percent polled by Gallup hold such a view. In 1973 21 percent agreed with the idea abortion should be legal under all circumstances and the view peaked in 1992 with 34 percent of the public agreeing.
The poll credits Mr. Obama’s election with causing the shift in U.S. public opinion.
“It is possible that, through his abortion policies, Obama has pushed the public’s understanding of what it means to be ‘pro-choice’ slightly to the left, politically,” the poll found. “While Democrats may support that, as they generally support everything Obama is doing as president, it may be driving others in the opposite direction.”
Pro-life advocates said such a shift was a long time coming and not unexpected.
“It’s not shocking that we’re seeing stronger pro-life opinions. This trend has been steady since the early ‘90s,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser.
“What is interesting is American’s shift in self-labeling to a majority ‘pro-life’ identification. Americans are now seeing through the PR-generated label, ‘pro-choice.’”
Ms. Dannenfelser believes Mr. Obama’s pro-choice policies are putting the White House at odds with the U.S. public. Since taking the oath of office, the president has worked to increase abortion services with the latest example being his call to remove a ban on taxpayer funded abortions in the District of Columbia.
The president has also lifted the ban of funding overseas abortions and has moved to rescind job protections for health care workers refusing to participate in abortion procedures. During the presidential election he campaign in favor of the Freedom of Choice Act and said the abortion issue was above his “pay grade.”
“President Obama and the pro-abortion majority in Congress are in a collision course with public opinion on abortion policy. What we’re debating right now – taxpayer funding for abortion – dramatically outstrips public opinion,” Ms. Dannenfelser said.
Another factor why a majority of Americans indentify with the pro-life movement is due to the advance of medical science. Unlike in 1973, modern medicine now calls into doubt the proposition a fetus is not a child worthy of protection.
"In the last two decades, ultrasounds have made people aware that abortion kills a baby, and women have been vocal about regretting their abortion,” said Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America.
The Gallup poll showed the pro-life movement making gains across the board. The number of pro-life Catholics, Protestants, women and men increased during this year’s poll. And as Americans move towards the pro-life movement, pro-life leaders say the Republican Party needs to follow.
“GOP leaders across the nation should take note of both this week’s poll and last week’s Pew research that show the pro-life position is strengthening the Republican Party,” said Ms. Dannenfelser.
“It’s time to abandon the ‘blame pro-lifers first’ approach when the GOP loses. If Republicans want to improve their electoral performance, standing on the side of Life is one of the best decisions they can make.”
The poll found the number of Republican-leaning Independent voters who consider themselves pro-life rose 10 points, from 60 percent to 70 percent, since the last time the poll was taken in May 2008.
The number of Republican leaners identifying themselves as pro-choice dropped from 36 percent to 26 percent.
Joe Murray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is wonderful news, that people are waking up to what abortion truly is. Pam