Poll Showing Pro-Life Majority on Abortion Shows Unified GOP, Ultrasound Success
by Steven Ertelt
May 18, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A national expert on opinion polls concerning abortion says the new Gallup survey showing a pro-life majority shows a more unified Republican Party. Michael New, a political science professor at the University of Alabama, also says the poll shows the success of ultrasound in changing the abortion debate.
The new Gallup poll, released on Friday, showed 51 percent of Americans self-identify as pro-life while just 42 percent themselves as "pro-choice."
This is the first time that a Gallup survey has found that a higher percentage of Americans identifying themselves as pro-life, though other polls have shown the pro-life majority.
New, who has authored numerous reports and scholarly papers on polling data and the affect of abortion laws on the number of abortions, says the Gallup survey partly reveals "the change in abortion politics over the past several years."
Specifically, New sees that the Republican Party is solidly pro-life, with several current and former abortion advocates failing to corral support.
"The pro-choice governors who were once thought to be the future of the Republican party (Whitman, Weld, Wilson) have vanished from the political scene. Furthermore, the amount of infighting over the Republican party’s pro-life plank has greatly diminished," New says.
"More importantly, Democrats have made a concerted effort to reach out to pro-life voters," New writes at National Review Online.
He says current and past Democratic Party presidential candidates, though pro-abortion in their actions, have toned down their rhetoric.
"Neither Barack Obama nor John Kerry even mentioned support for legal abortion during their respective acceptance speeches at the 2004 and 2008 Democratic convention. When asked about abortion, President Obama seems somewhat dodgy and a little evasive," New says. "Instead of presenting the pro-choice position in a shrill, uncompromising way, he usually talks about the need to reduce abortion and ways of finding common ground."
That backing down on hardcore pro-abortion rhetoric has likely, unwittingly, helped the pro-life movement by making it so even people who support legal abortions are less likely to say so or support abortion emphatically.
New also says the pro-life shift is helped by the educational impact of the pro-life movement.
He believes that "improvements in ultrasound technology and pro-life emphasis on broadly supported incremental legislation have led to some tangible gains in public support for the pro-life position." Such legislation includes parental involvement, Right to Know laws and bans on taxpayer-funded abortions.
New also thinks "the debate over the partial-birth abortion ban in the mid 1990s" is "the event which started shifting public opinion in a more pro-life direction."
Gallup editors and pro-life advocates believe that President Obama has moved public opinion in the pro-life direction by virtue of his extensive pro-abortion record that he has compiled so quickly.
New doesn’t dispute that contention.
"With regard to pro-life issues, President Obama was quick to rescind the Mexico City Policy which prevents U.S. foreign aid from going organizations that perform abortions. President Obama also loosened federal regulations on the funding of embryonic stem-cell research," New points out.
In fact, a previous Gallup poll found Americans opposed Obama’s move on the Mexico City Policy, cost him in public opinion.
Ultimately, though, New says Obama is a smart politician who will promote abortion but attempt to soften his image with the public.
"Since taking office, President Obama’s actions have indicated that he is shrewd, not disinterested," New concludes. "As such, he does not want to pursue policies that would provoke a backlash. Pro-lifers, as always, would do well to be vigilant."
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