Harris Poll Shows Strong Shift to Pro-Life Position on Abortion, Roe v. Wade
by Steven Ertelt
August 11, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A new national Harris poll finds a strong shift towards the pro-life position on abortion and reveals the shift is seen among members of both political parties. The poll also finds a majority of African-Americans and Hispanics oppose the Roe v. Wade decision that allowed virtually unlimited abortions.
Harris’ main polling question in the results it released today revolves around the 1973 Supreme Court case that allowed abortions for virtually any reason throughout pregnancy.
However, Harris inaccurately describes the case as a "decision on whether a woman should have an abortion up to three months of pregnancy," even though it allowed abortions until birth unless limited in the late term of pregnancy by states.
Still, Harris found a small majority of Americans back Roe as it described, on a 50-44 percentage point margin.
That 6 percent majority is the third lowest in any Harris poll on abortion and Roe since 1973 and is a 10 percent drop from the 16 percent majority it found in 2007.
As Harris noted in its analysis, "support for Roe vs. Wade has declined somewhat since the last time we asked these questions in 2007" and "a modest increase in support for Roe vs. Wade in 2007 has now been reversed."
The Harris Poll found Republicans, Democrats and independents are less likely to back Roe now than they did two years ago.
Republicans moved from 51-45 percent against Roe in 2007 to 59-39 percent against it now, a 14 point shift in the pro-life direction. Democrats moved 9 points to the pro-life perspective from 63-33 for Roe to 57-36 favoring it. Independents shifted 6 points to the pro-life view from 61-36 percent for Roe to 57-38 this year.
Breaking down the polling results using various socioeconomic and racial factors, Harris found adults aged 33-44 most likely to oppose Roe along with seniors above the age of 64.
Adults aged 45-54 and 18-32 are the most likely to support the pro-abortion Supreme Court decision.
The poll also found men and women equally opposed to Roe at a 44 percent clip while lower income voters were more pro-life than upper income voters.
While white Americans favored Roe, blacks opposed it by a 58-35 percent margin and Hispanics opposed it on a 58-40 percent margin.
Harris also asked a second, equally mis-worded, abortion question asking respondents if they favored abortions in all circumstances, some circumstances, or no circumstances.
Without defining which cases respondents may favor or oppose abortions, the question doesn’t lend itself to much analysis of when Americans favor allowing abortions and when they do not.
Still, 23 percent said abortions should be allowed in all cases, 53 percent in some cases, and 21 percent in no cases.
Compared to its 2007 results, the Harris poll showed a pro-life shift here as well, with a two percent drop in the pro-abortion position and a 1 percent increase in those who favor no abortions; for a three percent overall shift in the pro-life perspective.
The 23 percent who favored legalizing all abortions was tied for the lowest figure in that category since 1985 while the 21 percent who opposed all abortions was tied for the highest figure since Harris has asked that question over the years.
Harris also asked respondents whether they favored laws making it easier to get an abortion or harder or if the laws should stay the same as they are now. Again, without defining the laws, determining what Americans want is difficult, as most polls show strong majorities of Americans favoring most abortion limits.
The poll found 41 percent of Americans want it to be more difficult to get an abortion while just 14 percent say they want the laws to make it easier.
While the 41 percent figure was, historically, the second highest since 1992, Harris showed the 14 percent pro-abortion figure was its second lowest — again marking a clear pro-life shift over the years.
The Harris Poll was conducted by telephone within the United States between July 7 and 14, 2009 among 1,010 adults.
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