(Photo: REUTERS/Jim Young)
One-half of all Americans identify as "pro-life" on abortion, according to a new Gallup poll. Forty-one percent consider themselves "pro-choice," a record low since Gallup has asked the question.
The previous record low for pro-choice identifiers was 42 percent in May 2009. Fifty-one percent called themselves pro-life in that poll, matching this month's nine percentage point gap between pro-life and pro-choice identifiers.
The May 2009 spike in pro-life identification proved temporary. A 2011 poll showed more pro-choicers, 49 percent, than pro-lifers, 45 percent.
"It remains to be seen," Gallup notes, "whether the pro-life spike found this month proves temporary, as it did in 2009, or is sustained for some period."
When Gallup first asked the question in 1995, 56 percent of Americans identified themselves as pro-choice while only 33 percent claimed the pro-life label.
Gallup found the trend toward pro-life identification among all partisan groups. Seventy-two percent of Republicans say they are pro-life, which is almost the same as the previous high of 73 percent in 2009. For only the second time since the poll has been taken, more independents call themselves pro-life, 47 percent, than pro-choice, 41 percent. And among Democrats, 34 percent call themselves pro-life, a seven percentage point increase from a year ago. The previous high for pro-life Democrats was 38 percent in 2003.
When asked a more specific question about their views on abortion, American's views have remained fairly steady.
Gallup asked, "Do you think abortions should be legal under any circumstances, legal only under certain circumstances, or illegal in all circumstances?"
In the recent poll, 52 percent chose the middle position -- legal under certain circumstances. Since 2001, this has been the most popular answer, ranging between 50-58 percent.
Abortion has been an issue recently with regard to the Obama administration's birth control mandate and funding for Planned Parenthood.
The birth control mandate requires employers to provide coverage for what has been called "emergency contraceptives" or the "morning-after pill," such as Plan B. Pro-life advocates have argued that these drugs are abortifacients.
Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest pro-choice advocacy organization. The organization also receives government grants to provide referrals and services for women's health, such as breast cancer screenings. Some pro-life advocates have sought to discontinue government funding for Planned Parenthood due to its legalized abortion advocacy. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has said he supports these efforts.
Last fall, a pro-life documentary, "The Gift of Life," narrated by former Arkansas governor, 2008 presidential candidate and media personality Mike Huckabee was released. The film interviews several people who were nearly the victims of an abortion.
Gallup's recent poll of 1,024 adults was conducted May 3-6, 2012. The margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points.