New Pew Poll Shows Support for Legal Abortion Drops to Lowest Level in 15 Years
by Steven Ertelt
April 29, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A new poll conducted by Pew Research finds the support for legal abortions has dropped to its lowest level in 15 years.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted March 31-April 21 among 1,521 adults, finds President Barack Obama’s abortion advocacy could be sparking a shift to the pro-life side of the abortion debate.
The Pew poll found 46 percent of Americans say abortion should be legal in most cases (28%) or all cases (18%) and 44 percent of Americans believe that abortion should be illegal in most (28%) or all cases (16%).
That two point margin in favor of abortion is the lowest margin since 1995 as Pew, and other polling firms, have been asking the same polling question of Americans across the country every year.
The proportion saying that abortion should be legal in all or most cases has declined to 46% from 54% last August.
Currently, 44% say abortion should be illegal in most (28%) or all cases (16%), up slightly since last August (41%).
Breaking down the polling results by social groups and comparing them with Pew’s results in August, men saw a 10 percent pro-life shift and women a 5 percent shift between polls.
Older voters 50 and up experienced a greater shift (10-11 percent) to the pro-life position making abortions illegal while voters under 50 saw a five percent pro-life shift.
Politically, there has been notable decline in the proportion of independents saying abortion should be legal in most or all cases; majorities of independents favored legal abortion in August and the two October surveys, but just 44% do so today.
In addition, the proportion of moderate and liberal Republicans saying abortion should be legal declined between August and late October (from 67% to 57%). In the current survey, just 43% of moderate and liberal Republicans say abortion should legal in most or all cases.
Democrats saw no change as 62 percent say abortions should generally be legal while 27 percent say they should generally be illegal.
In fact, conservative and moderate Democrats were the only subgroup to show an increase in the percentage saying they want abortions legal — perhaps because they have bought into the Obama rhetoric about keeping abortions legal while supposedly working to reduce them.
Among religious groups, support for abortion has steadily declined since August among white mainline Protestants (from 69% then to 54% currently). And just 23% of white evangelical Protestants now favor legal abortion, down from 33% in August and mid-October and 28% in late October.
However, Catholics did not see the same pro-life shift as did mainline Protestants and evangelicals. Just two percent more said in the latest poll they want abortions illegal compared with the Pew results from August.
The poll is an aberration of sorts in that it does not show the approximately 55-45 percentage point pro-life majority.
Because it does not ask people to identify the exact cases when abortion should be illegal or not, it leaves it to the respondent to determine when abortions are done. Other polls that ask about specific cases show about 55 percent of Americans oppose 98 percent of all abortions done in the United States.
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