Poll Reveals Major Shift Toward Pro-Life Sentiment

For the first time in over a decade, more Americans say they are pro-life than pro-choice, a new Gallup poll revealed.

Just over half (51 percent) of Americans stand for the sanctity of human life while 42 percent consider themselves pro-choice, according to the May 2009 survey released Friday.

This marks the first time a majority of U.S. adults identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking the abortion question in 1995 when only 33 percent called themselves pro-life.

Since then the highest percentage identifying as pro-life was 46 percent in 2001 and 2002.

The Gallup Poll found the dramatic shift occurred just in the past year. In 2008, 44 percent said they were pro-life while 50 percent were pro-choice.

In terms of when abortions should be legal, Americans are about as likely to say the procedure should be illegal in all circumstances (23 percent) as they are to say it should be legal under any circumstances (22 percent).

Fifty-three percent say it should be legal only under certain circumstances. But more Americans are likely to say abortion should be legal only in "a few" circumstances (37 percent) than under "most" circumstances (15 percent).

The Gallup Poll confirmed Americans' recent shift toward the pro-life position with two other surveys. The Gallup Values and Beliefs survey showed that 50 percent consider themselves pro-life while 43 percent identify as pro-choice. Moreover, a recent Pew Research Center survey also found that the percentage of Americans who say abortion should be legal in all or most cases dropped from 54 percent to 46 percent while the percentage of those who say the procedure should be legal in only a few or no cases jumped from 41 to 44 percent.

Increase in pro-life sentiment is seen across Christian religious affiliations. Fifty-nine percent of Protestants and "other Christians" identify as pro-life, a rise from 51 percent in 2008. Pro-lifers among Catholics rose from 45 to 52 percent. Even within the "other/none" group, there was a rise in pro-lifers from 27 to 31 percent.

The rise in pro-lifers was also largely seen among conservatives, moderates and Republicans, they survey found.

Among conservatives, pro-lifers rose from 66 to 71 percent. Pro-lifers also increased from 38 to 45 percent among moderates. Among Republicans and those who lean Republican, the poll found a rise in pro-lifers from 60 to 70 percent over the past year and a drop (36 to 26 percent) in those who call themselves pro-choice.

Liberals and Democrats, meanwhile, showed essentially no shift in their views with 19 percent and 33 percent identifying as pro-life, respectively.

The survey results were released as President Barack Obama has rescinded the Mexico City Policy, ending a ban on funding international groups that perform or promote abortions; lifted a ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research; brought on board Kathleen Sebelius who is tied to late-term abortionist George Tiller to his Cabinet; and expressed support for the Freedom of Choice Act, which would overturn virtually all federal and state limitations on abortion. He has also moved toward rescinding federal job protections for medical workers who refuse to participate in abortion procedures.

"It is possible that, through his abortion policies, Obama has pushed the public's understanding of what it means to be 'pro-choice' slightly to the left, politically," the Gallup Poll stated in its report.

Results of the survey are based on interviews with 1,015 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted May 7-10.

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