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In 2012, more Americans identify as pro-life
March for Life in Washington DC, 2012.
March for Life in Washington DC, 2012.

.- The number of pro-life Americans is near an all-time high, while those who self-identify as pro-choice are at a record low, according to a new Gallup survey.

Results from a poll taken in early May show that 50 percent of Americans say they are "pro-life," an increase of five percent since a 2009 survey.

Forty-one percent, however, identify as pro-choice – down eight points since 2009.

The change is even more dramatic since 1995, when 56 percent of Americans told Gallup they were pro-choice while only 33 percent said they were pro-life.

In 2012, Republicans tend to be the most pro-life, with 72 percent identifying as such. About 34 percent of Democrats are pro-life, as are 47 percent of independents. Fifty-eight percent of Democrats say they are pro-choice, as do 22 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of independents.

Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, said that the results are "the tip of the iceberg."

"In fact, a growing number of Americans are uneasy with the unfettered, under-regulated and unsavory abortion industry as it exists today," she said May 23.

She pointed to surveys showing that 7 in 10 Americans do not want tax dollars to fund abortion. She said there is "tremendous support for commonsense limits on abortion" such as limits on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Gallup's analysis noted several abortion-related controversies in the past year, such as efforts to ban federal funding for the abortion provider Planned Parenthood to investigate its finances. The Susan G. Komen for the Cure anti-breast cancer foundation also became a newsmaker when it decided to suspend its grants to the organization, before retreating under intense pressure from abortion rights supporters.

The controversy over the HHS contraceptive coverage mandate and its effect on Catholic organizations may also be a factor, Gallup suggested, because it highlighted objections to the morning-after pill.

However, the pollster said it is unclear whether any of the controversies caused the shift in Americans' self-identification.

There are also questions about whether changes in Americans' self-labeling will have consequences.

"While Americans' identification as 'pro-choice' has waned over the past year, their fundamental views about the morality and legality of abortion have held steady," Gallup said.

The survey found that 51 percent of Americans believe abortion is morally wrong, while 38 percent say it is morally acceptable. These results are "nearly identical" to a May 2011 survey.

Only 20 percent of Americans said that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, 52 percent said it should be legal only under certain circumstances and 25 percent said it should be legal in all circumstances.

The Gallup poll surveyed 1,024 U.S. adults aged 18 and older from May 2-6. It claims a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

Tags: Abortion, Pro-life, United States


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