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A more polarized America?

A recent Gallup poll has characterized American opinion on abortion as more “polarized” than in the past.  However, examining the poll results, America is more accurately described as continuing to reject abortion-on-demand.  And as Gallup notes, “Over the past two decades, Americans have consistently leaned toward believing abortion should be legal in only a few or no circumstances… .”

What Gallup terms the “extreme” views on abortion – supporting or opposing legal abortion with no exceptions — does not tell the whole story about Americans continued rejection of abortion. 

According to Gallup, its results found for the “first time since 2008” that “the ‘pro-choice’ position has had the numerical advantage on this Gallup trend.” However, through the same polling, Gallup also acknowledged that:

 Americans are rather conservative in their stance on abortion, with 61% now preferring that abortion be legal in only a few circumstances or no circumstances. By contrast, 37% want abortion legal in all or most circumstances.

Other recent polls also show that a strong majority of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion and that Americans strongly favor conscience protections for health care providers.

So, why is it that when asking a broad question, such as to self-describe as “pro-life” or “pro-choice,” poll results are not as consistent and clear?  Arguably, this is because what it means to be “pro-life” or “pro-choice” is not as cut and dry as “Should my doctor be forced to perform or refer for abortions?” and “Should my tax dollars be spent on abortions?”

The broader the question, the more likely someone has a caveat to the answer he or she is forced to pick.  (A probable universal pet-peeve is being limited to a “yes or no” response, when there is a nuance to your answer.)   Thus, the more specific questions that are asked, the clearer — and more accurate– the picture of the “pro-life” face of America becomes.  

In addition, Americans who consider themselves “pro-choice” appear less likely to hold the staunch views of organizations like NARAL-Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood that advocate for unrestricted abortion-on-demand. 

Gallup notes that in 1992, “more than twice as many [Americans] believed abortion should be legal rather than illegal in all cases, 34% vs. 15%.”  In contrast, its most recent data shows only 27% support abortion-on-demand and 22% would prohibit abortion without exception. 

And this is precisely what “old guard” feminists have lamented over in numerous op-eds; the younger generation of “abortion-supporters” are not really that supportive of abortion. 

Whether because ultrasound images have shown the development of family members they love or because abortion has negatively impacted someone they know, what is increasingly clear is that Americans disagree with the abortion-regime that Roe v. Wade imposed on them.  Regardless of the “label” chosen in a Gallup poll, a majority of Americans continue to reject abortion-on-demand.