What does the Gallup poll on abortion really mean?

23 May

It’s that time of year again–Gallup Poll season! Which means it’s also the season of “anti-choicers claiming and celebrating their majority.”

We’ve talked about before how antichoicers are only interested in how they look, not what good they actually do (See Mississippi Representative Lester “Bubba” Carpenter admitting he doesn’t care if women die as long as abortion is illegal). The Gallup poll rejoicing is another one of those situations. This year’s poll shows that 50% of those polled identify as “pro-life,” and 41% identify as “pro-choice.” This is a change from last year’s 49% prochoice and 45% prolife.

Now, this might sound like a serious problem to some pro-choice advocates. However, one needs to look further into the polling to see the real situation.

52% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal under some circumstances. An additional 25% believe it should be legal under any circumstances.  Together, that means a whole 77% of Americans support abortion being legal.  In contrast, only 20% believe abortion should always be illegal (and that’s down 2% from last year!).

Obviously, this is a case of people not understanding what “pro-choice” and “pro-life” really mean.

Now, are some of the people who think abortion should be legal “sometimes” perhaps prolife? Yes. But we asked antis last year if they would really accept people who found abortion to be okay sometimes (if you truly believe abortion is murder, would you be okay with people saying ‘sure, murder is acceptable sometimes?’). My feeling is that no, the leaders of the anti-choice movement do not want those on the fence people. So really, they’re celebrating a hollow victory.

Pro-choicers, on the other hand, do have something to celebrate. Even with all the numerous attacks across state lines against abortion, birth control and freedom, support for abortion hasn’t declined. The number of people who think abortion should be legal in all circumstances hasn’t fallen below 23% in at least 10 years. The number of people who think it should be legal in some circumstances has steadily hung out in the 50-58%. As Gallup says, “it is notable that while Americans’ labeling of their position has changed, their fundamental views on the issue have not..”

Perhaps people are more worried about calling themselves “pro-choice” in an environment of constant anti-choice attacks.Or, perhaps we are taking back the pro-life label–because we are pro-life when we are pro-choice. We are saving, supporting, and creating lives. And that is something we should always celebrate.

3 Responses to “What does the Gallup poll on abortion really mean?”

  1. Sledpress May 23, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

    I remember long ago reading an interview with the comics artist Lynda Barry, who drew one of the most powerful abortion-related pieces of strip art I have ever seen — ending with the light over the kitchen table dimming and going to black above one of her schoolmates, who had a back alley abortion and died of it while the boy who knocked her up was sent on a vacation by his family. Barry eventually also had an abortion, more safely, and said “I chose life. The life I chose was my own.”

    Nuff said.

  2. Steph L May 24, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    Thank you for this post. I was seeing sensationalist headlines “number of pro choice americans at all time low” on several sites but it was obvious that wasn’t the case when you looked at the numbers. But you know that won’t stop the antis from sqealing about it.

    @sledpress
    That sounds amazing. A chance of a link?

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