Americans are continuing to move toward a more pro-life perspective on abortion, according to the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization, which recently conducted a survey on the divisive issue.
Though around half of Americans still prefer to identify themselves as "pro-choice" over "pro-life," the Knights of Columbus – in partnership with the Marist Institute for Public Opinion – found that 86 percent of those surveyed said they would significantly restrict abortion, 79 percent support conscience exemptions on abortion for health care workers, and 80 percent believe that laws can protect both the health of the woman and the life of the unborn.
Additionally, the data from the recent survey showed that since October nearly every demographic sub-group had moved toward the pro-life position except for non-practicing Catholics and men under 45 years of age.
"The data shows that the American people are placing an ever increasing value on human life," said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. "Far from the great divide that most people think exists when it comes to the abortion debate, there is actually a great deal of common ground."
In terms of the labels themselves, the survey still found Americans to be largely divided, with 49 percent of those surveyed identifying themselves as pro-life and 48 percent identifying themselves as pro-choice. But the latest figures mark a significant growth for the pro-life movement as only 44 percent of those surveyed in October said they were pro-life while 50 percent said they were pro-choice.
Furthermore, of the 82 percent of Americans who believe abortion should be legal, more than half believe it should be legal only in a few circumstances. Only 23 percent of those surveyed said they believe abortion should be legal under any circumstance – as the Supreme Court had ruled in the infamous Roe v. Wade case back in 1973.
"Most Americans are unhappy with the unrestricted access to abortion that is the legacy of Roe vs. Wade, and pundits and elected leaders should take note of the fact that agreement on abortion need not be limited to the fringes of the debate and issues like adoption or pre-natal care," commented Anderson.
"The American people have reached a basic consensus, and that consensus is at odds with the unrestricted access to abortion that is the legacy of Roe," he concluded.
The survey by the Knights of Columbus and Marist was conducted May 28 – 31 on 1,223 Americans and has a margin of error of +/-3 percent.
Another survey conducted around the same time by the Gallup organization found that over half (51 percent) of Americans stand for the sanctity of human life while 42 percent consider themselves pro-choice.
It marked the first time since Gallup began asking the abortion question in 1995 that a majority of U.S. adults identified themselves as pro-life. In 1995, only 33 percent called themselves pro-life.