By Dave Andrusko
Left over from last week—the results of a study of millennials by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). But because the study of 2,314 young people between the ages of 18 and 35 does not break down broad generalized inquires about abortion, there are drastic limits to what you can conclude. And there is much other work that shows how pro-life young people are. Nonetheless….
First, PRRI (which no one who reads its work would ever think harbors sympathy for the right to life movement) starts off by saying “Millennial attitudes about the legality of abortion generally mirror the attitudes of the general public.” At one level, that would be positive, since we are forever being told that younger people are more “liberal” on social issues. But it is even more encouraging because most polls underestimate how pro-life the overall public actually is.
Let’s see what the PRRI results are:
22% say abortion should be “legal in all cases” and 33% in “most cases.”
27% say abortion should be “illegal in most cases”; 15% say illegal in “most cases.”
But, unlike what Gallup has done for a number of years, there was no follow up question to determine what those who said abortion should be legal in “most cases” meant?
To be clear, the wording is slightly different. Gallup offered these options:
Abortion should be legal “under all circumstances”; “only under certain circumstances”; and “illegal in all circumstances.”
Gallup now asks people who say abortion should be legal “only under certain circumstances” whether they mean “legal under most circumstances” or “legal only in a few circumstances.”
This parsing out of what people are saying explains why we can say—with complete accuracy—that we know that a total of 58% of the American public believes that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances (20%) or legal in only a few circumstances (38%).
What else can we learn from the Millennial survey?
Millennials are divided by religion on the issue of abortion. On one side, at least six in ten black Protestant (61%) and white mainline Protestant millennials (63%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do 79% of religiously unaffiliated millennials. White Catholic millennials are evenly split between those who say abortion should be legal in all or most cases (51%) and those who say it should be illegal in all or most cases (49%).
On the opposing side, majorities of Hispanic Catholic (55%) and Hispanic Protestant millennials (61%) think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. White evangelical Protestant millennials stand out as the group most opposed, with eight in ten (80%) saying abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.
A growing demographic is solidly pro-life. Good, good news.
Another surprise? (Not actually but…) A majority of Millennials
oppose a policy that makes abortion legally available to young people age 16 or older without parental approval. Nearly six in ten (59%) millennials oppose making abortion services available to young women age 16 or older without parental consent, while 37% support this policy.
You can read the full report—“How Race and Religion Shape Millennial Attitudes on Sexuality and Reproductive Health”—here.