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This week Gallup released their annual survey that asks Americans to rate the morality of various social issues. Overall, the news was not particularly good for social conservatives. On a variety of issues relating to sex and marriage, Americans are becoming more social liberal. Since 2001, a significantly smaller percentage of Americans are morally opposed to gay and lesbian relations, divorce, and sex between unmarried individuals. There was even a seven-percentage-point increase in the number of Americans who thought polygamy was morally acceptable.

However, the news was not all bad. Opposition to pornography held relatively constant. The report also indicated that since 2001 a smaller percentage of Americans find physician-assisted suicide morally acceptable. Furthermore, moral opposition to abortion has remained constant since 2001.

Opinion trends on abortion are interesting. Since 2001, Gallup polls have shown that opinions toward the morality of abortion have remained fairly constant. However, the percentage of Americans willing to identify themselves as “pro-life” has increased. Six of the last nine Gallup polls taken since 2009 have shown that Americans are more likely to describe themselves as “pro-life” rather than “pro-choice.” The fact that more Americans are translating their moral unease about abortion to political and legal opposition toward abortion is a positive development – and is a nice testament to the good work of the pro-life movement

— Michael J. New is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan – Dearborn, a fellow at the Witherspoon Institute, and an adjunct scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_J_New.

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