The pro-life movement reached a breakthrough in public opinion in 2009, when for the first time, a Gallup poll showed most Americans (51%) consider themselves pro-life. That number has gone down slightly since then, which Dr. Michael New of the University of Michigan says is probably a small backlash against pro-life gains that will probably fade. But even though the number has gone down, Gallup has found the percentages of those considering themselves pro-life and pro-abortion very close, and declared that most Americans being pro-life is “the new normal”.
Gallup’s latest poll on abortion released on July 25, 2011 didn’t directly ask whether people consider themselves pro-life or pro-abortion, but rather asked about opinions on various restrictions and support for abortion in the three trimesters of pregnancy. Some of the results may discourage pro-lifers, but they are also a source for hope.
Strong majorities favor restrictions such as requiring abortionists to inform patients of the potential risks caused by abortion (87% in support), parental consent (71%), waiting periods (69%), and a ban on partial birth abortion (64%). A small majority favors requiring that women be shown an ultrasound of their unborn baby before an abortion (50% in favor, 46% opposed). The first four are supported across the board in the five demographic areas asked: men, women, Republicans, independents, and Democrats. Interestingly, the ultrasound requirement found more support among Democrats (49% in favor) than among independents (42% in favor).
The last restriction on which people were polled showed more murky results. 46% favored allowing health professionals to opt out of “providing medicine or surgical procedures that result in abortion,” with 51% opposed. Many respondents may have taken the wording to mean that this was a life-of-the-mother case. A poll conducted in May of this year showed 77% said it is “important” to them that “healthcare professionals in the U.S. are not forced to participate in procedures or practices to which they have moral objections.” A lesser amount, 50%, supported a law prohibiting discrimination against hospitals and professionals who decline to participate in abortions, with just 35% in opposition.
When Gallup asked about support for legal abortion in the three trimesters, they found 62% supported legal abortion in the first trimester, but just 24% support legal abortion in the second trimester and only 11% support it in the third trimester. While the 62% number is not pretty, as science advances, it has nowhere to go but down. The development of ultrasound in the 1970s brought many to the pro-life side, and the development of 4D ultrasound, in which people can see their unborn baby’s face, in the last decade is bringing even more, not to mention the fact that medicine is pushing the point of viability even earlier. Twenty or thirty years ago it was 28 weeks, and now it is close to 22 weeks. Research is showing that unborn babies can feel pain from abortion. Science is not a friend to the pro-abortion side, as Frances Kissling despaired earlier this year. As science advances, Americans will realize that the pro-abortion view is an archaic and unscientific one, and they will support life in all stages of pregnancy.
To see the full results of the Gallup poll, click here.