Further Reflections on the latest Gallup Survey Results

By Dave Andrusko

As a writer, it’s always fun when readers respond, especially when they help me see important details I’ve missed in my account.

You know from Monday’s National Right to Life News Today that Gallup’s 2011 Values and Beliefs survey, conducted May 5-8, included several very important pro-life conclusions. For those who missed yesterday, I’ll talk briefly about a couple of highlights after I pay homage to my astute readers.

I came close but never actually highlighted in so many words a very important finding in Gallup’s survey of 1,018 adults. We learn from Lydia Saad that a total of 61% of respondents said abortion should either be legal in only a few circumstances (39%) or illegal in all circumstances (22%).

That compares with a total of 37% who said either that abortion should be legal in all circumstances (27%), or under most circumstances (10%).

No matter how you slice it, that signals that Americans are much, much closer to where you and I are than to PPFA.

That’s one I missed. A second is the improvement in that same categories from three years ago.

In May 2008 Gallup found a total of 57% in the two pro-life categories (as compared to 61% this month) and 41% in the pro-abortion categories (as compared to 37% this month).

The third item I should have mentioned is that more people said abortion was “morally wrong” this year—51%– than said abortion was morally wrong in 2008—48%. All are very encouraging.

Let me summarize four items from yesterday’s overview.

#1. Saad properly concluded, “Americans are rather conservative in their stance on abortion.”

#2. To the question when should abortion be legal, the numbers are virtually identical for men, women, and the 18-34 year old cohort.

#3. Responses reflect partisan divisions.

“Republicans and Democrats also differ in their views on the morality and legality of abortion,” Saad writes. “Nearly three-quarters of Republicans consider abortion morally wrong and nearly 8 in 10 say abortions should be legal in only a few circumstances or illegal in all circumstances. By contrast, just over half of Democrats believe abortion is morally acceptable and say abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances.”

What about political independents? They “are evenly divided on the moral correctness of abortion,” according to Saad, “but they tilt fairly strongly toward restrictive abortion laws, with 60% saying abortion should be legal in a few or no circumstances.”

#4. Saad’s “bottom line”?

“Americans’ views on abortion held fairly steady over the past year, with the public still sharply divided over the ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ labels. Nevertheless, majorities of Americans indicate some reluctance about abortion on both moral and legal grounds. This is seen most strongly among Republicans and older Americans.”

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