Abortion Poll: 17-Point Shift Toward Pro-Life Stance in Single Month

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A Marist poll released Monday reveals recent legislation to make abortion a fundamental right and allow the procedure even moments before birth has led to a “sudden and dramatic shift” toward the pro-life position.

The poll finds a double-digit shift, with Americans now as likely to identify as pro-life (47 percent) as pro-choice (47 percent) since a similar Marist poll conducted in January. In addition, pro-life Democrats alone have shifted from 20 to 34 percent, an outcome that shows more than one-third of Democrats now identify as pro-life.

“Current proposals that promote late-term abortion have reset the landscape and language on abortion in a pronounced – and very measurable – way,” Marist Poll Director Barbara Carvalho said in a press release, adding:

The recent legal changes to late-term abortion and the debate which followed have not gone unnoticed by the general public…there has been a significant increase in the proportion of Americans who see themselves as pro-life and an equally notable decline in those who describe themselves as pro-choice.

The Marist Poll joined with the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic charitable organization, to conduct both last month’s poll and the current one.

Regarding the “dramatic shift” in Democrats’ stance on abortion, the Knights of Columbus said:

Among Democrats, the gap between pro-life and pro-choice identifiers was cut in half from 55 percent to 27 percent. The number of Democrats now identifying as pro-life is 34 percent, up from 20 percent last month, while the number identifying as pro-choice fell from 75 percent to 61 percent.

Younger Americans also moved dramatically, now dividing 47 percent pro-life to 48 percent pro-choice. One month ago, the gap was almost 40 percentage points with only 28 percent identifying as pro-life and 65 percent identifying as pro-choice.

The survey finds Americans largely oppose later-term abortions, with 71 percent saying abortion should be generally illegal during the third trimester and 25 percent saying it should be legal. The 71 percent outcome includes 60 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of independents, and 85 percent of Republicans.

According to the poll, Americans strongly oppose abortion past 20 weeks of pregnancy by an even wider margin: 71 to 18 percent.

The survey shows that only 18 percent of Americans support abortion at any time up until birth.

Additionally, the poll reveals that 80 percent of Americans would like abortion limited to – at most – the first three months of pregnancy, which is an increase of five points since the January poll. This outcome includes 65 percent of those who identify as pro-choice and strong majorities of Democrats (64 percent), Republicans (92 percent) and independents (83 percent).

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said Americans by and large have not accepted the arguments behind recent legislation to make abortion a fundamental right up until birth.

“Arguments in favor of late-term abortion are simply not convincing the American people,” he said. “If anything, since these proposals have been unveiled, people are moving noticeably in the pro-life direction. It is now clear that these radical policies are being pursued despite the opposition of the majority of Americans of both parties.”

The survey of 1,008 adults was conducted February 12 through February 17, 2019. Live interviewers interviewed respondents in English or Spanish via landline or mobile numbers. Results are statistically significant within plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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