A new study reveals that public opinion in the trend-setting state of Missouri has shifted strongly in the pro-life direction.
The study, conducted by Overbrook Research in Illinois, looks at public opinion and abortion in Missouri between 1992 and 2006 and is authored by Christopher Blunt and Fred Steeper.
In 1992, 34 percent of Missouri voters described themselves as "strongly pro-choice". In 2006, this figure dropped to 23 percent. The percentage of citizens polled who described themselves as "strongly pro-life" rose from 26 percent to 36 percent in the same period.
Blunt and Steeper note that the most dramatic shift is among the young people they polled. In 1992, those under age 30 were the most strongly pro-abortion (39%), and the least strongly pro-life (23%). In 2006, 36 percent of this same age group described themselves as pro-life.
The authors hypothesize that this shift among the 18- to 29-year-olds is related to the ascendance of partial-birth abortion during their lifetime as the issue's dominant frame.
This is also the generation for whom fetal ultrasound images have become ubiquitous, increasing the sensitivity of many to the possible humanity of the unborn child. Furthermore, these voters grew up with the realization that they themselves could have been aborted if their parents had chosen differently.
The attitudes of 30- to 49-year-olds have also shifted. In 1992, 27 percent of women and 23 percent of men in this age group described themselves as "strongly pro-life"; in 2006, they increased to 38 percent and 34 percent respectively.
Blunt and Steeper also noted that 56 percent of "strongly pro-life" voters in 1992 identified themselves as Republicans and 33 percent as Democrats. In 2006, the numbers were 62 percent and 25 percent respectively.