Pew: Republicans Trend Increasingly Pro-Life as Democrats Align with Abortion Industry

An Iowa bill banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected is expected to trigger a legal battle, which conservatives hope will land the flashpoint social issue back at the US Supreme Court.
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THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.

Republicans have shifted increasingly pro-life in the past two decades, while Democrats have skewed pro-choice, according to a Pew Research Center report.

In 1995, Republicans were evenly divided regarding abortion, with 49 percent saying it should be legal in most or all circumstances and 48 percent saying it should be illegal. In 2018, however, a substantial majority (59 percent) hold that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, with only 36 percent holding the opposing view.

As the GOP has swung pro-life, the Democrat Party has trended in the opposite direction, Pew found.

While today, more than three quarters (76 percent) of Democrats say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, in 1995, ten percent fewer (64 percent) Party members held that opinion.

Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received powerful backing from the abortion industry and was a regular speaker at Planned Parenthood events, and Barack Obama received a 100 percent NARAL Pro-Choice America approval rating for his consistent pro-abortion voting during his tenure in the U.S. Congress.

In April 2017, Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Tom Perez famously closed the door to pro-life candidates in the Party, promising to support and fund only candidates who back a woman’s right to abortion, effectively making the GOP the only home for pro-life Americans.

“Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health,” Perez said in a statement. “That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state.”

“At a time when women’s rights are under assault from the White House, the Republican Congress, and in states across the country,” he added, “we must speak up for this principle as loudly as ever and with one voice.”

In its survey, Pew failed to ask a key question regarding legal limitations on abortion: should there be any legal restrictions on abortion at all? While a majority of Americans say they believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, many believe it should be illegal in some cases.

Last June, Gallup conducted a more nuanced poll and found that half of Americans said abortion should be legal “only under certain circumstances.” Only 29 percent, in fact, said that abortion should be legal under any circumstances, which reflects most current U.S. legislation.

Moreover, during the 1990s, more Americans identified as pro-choice than pro-life by 51 percent to 40 percent, whereas now, citizens are closely split; 47 percent identify as pro-choice and 46 percent as pro-life, Gallup said.

A Marist poll conducted in January revealed that more than three quarters (76 percent) of Americans would restrict abortion to, at most, the first trimester of pregnancy.

The poll also found that 63 percent of Americans would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, while 60 percent oppose the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortion.

When asked if abortion is “morally wrong,” a majority of Americans (60 percent) responded that it is.

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