Majority Say Abortion Morally Wrong, But Call Themselves Pro-Choice

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 26, 2011   |   12:46PM   |   Washington, DC

A second national poll released this week has voters confused about the way in which they term their own views on the issue of abortion — saying they are “pro-choice” when they actually oppose abortion.

A new Rasmussen Reports survey has a plurality of voters saying they consider themselves “pro-choice” but most still consider abortion morally unjust most of the time. Some 49 percent of those polled in the Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of likely voters say they are “pro-choice” while 41% classify themselves as pro-life.

Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Democrats consider themselves pro-choice, while 62% of Republicans and 51% of voters not affiliated with either major political party are pro-life.

At the same time, 52% believe abortion is morally wrong most of the time while just 32 percent disagree and 17 percent are unsure. Forty-two percent (42%) of voters say it’s too easy to get an abortion in the United States while just 16 percent say it is too hard and 26 percent it’s about right. Another 16 percent don’t know if it is too hard.

“Consistent with past findings, 49% say there should be a waiting period before a woman can get an abortion. Thirty-six percent (36%) disagree with this assessment, and another 15% are not sure,” the poll found.

Rasmussen also survey voted on the important of abortion in the 2012 election and found, “When it comes to voting in the next Congressional election, 56% of voters consider abortion at least somewhat important in terms of how they will vote. That includes 29% who consider this issue Very Important.  Among pro-life voters, 48% consider the issue Very Important. Only 17% of pro-choice voters share that intensity.”

Those numbers bode well for candidates who may want to emphasize their pro-life views but worry about turning off voters.

On Tuesday, Gallup released a poll showing 61 percent of Americans want all or most abortions illegal but wrongly classifying their views a “pro-choice.”

By a 24 percent margin, 61-37 percent, Americans take the pro-life view that abortions should either be legal under no circumstances or legal only under a few circumstances. Although Gallup doesn’t specify those “few” circumstances, polling data has consistently shown that, when asked about cases such as rape,  incest, or the life of the mother, a majority of Americans want all or almost all abortions made illegal — leaving only life of the mother or rape and incest as the exceptions.

As is the case with most national surveys, a majority of Americans all say abortion is “morally wrong” — something the Gallup poll has shown since 2001.

“Just over half of Americans, 51%, believe abortion is “morally wrong,” while 39% say it is “morally acceptable.” Americans’ views on this have been fairly steady since 2002, except for 2006, when they were evenly divided,” Saad indicated.

Despite Americans taking clear pro-life positions on abortion, by wanting them prohibited or saying they are morally wrong, Americans are divided on what to call their abortion views — with many pro-life Americans apparently erroneously believing they are “pro-choice” rather than pro-life.

Currently, 49 percent of Americans call themselves “pro-choice” on abortion while 45 percent refer to their position as pro-life. That’s a change from the poll last year when 47 percent of Americans said they were pro-life and 45 percent said they were “pro-choice.” However, it is the first time since 2008 that the “pro-choice” position has had the numerical advantage on this Gallup trend.