The latest Gallup poll on abortion has some really encouraging news: The number of Americans identifying as “pro-choice” has fallen to a record low of 41%. Meanwhile 51% of Americans describe themselves as “pro-life.” Even these numbers are somewhat misleading.
When asked about the legality or availability of abortion, only 25% took the radical view that abortion should be legal “under any circumstance.” An overwhelming majority — 72% — felt abortion should either be limited or “illegal in all circumstances.”
He has it reversed. 25% said it should be legal under any circumstance, but even less — 20% — said it should be illegal in all circumstances. 52% said it should be legal under some circumstances, which is actually higher than the result of the same poll in 2011. The religious right and the media are making a big deal out of the fact that the poll says 51% identify themselves as “pro-life” while only 41% identify as “pro-choice.” But that’s just a label that doesn’t necessarily indicate an actual position on abortion.
That 52% that thinks abortion should be legal under some circumstances undoubtedly includes a whole range of positions, some of which we would obviously label as pro-choice and some we would label as anti-choice. Someone who believes that abortion should be legal only when it is to save the life of the mother would qualify as someone who thinks it should be legal under “some circumstances,” yet we would certainly not call that person pro-choice. But it would also involve people who think abortion should be legal for any reason until the third trimester, and we certainly would not call that person “pro-life.”
Like Dispatches on Facebook: