February 26, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A new Marist poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus (KofC) finds that just as many Americans consider themselves “pro-life” as “pro-choice,” representing a surprising increase from a poll the same organization released just a month ago.
Last month, Marist released its annual abortion survey, which found that just 38% of Americans considered themselves “pro-life” versus 55% “pro-choice,” with an additional 7% unsure. 48% of Americans said they would either completely ban abortions or limit them to cases of rape, incest, or to save a mother’s life; the rest of the findings indicated overwhelming majority support for restricting abortion much more than it is today.
On Monday, Marist released another poll, which now finds the “pro-life” and “pro-choice” labels tied at 47% with 6% unsure, and a combined 58% of Americans who would ban all or most abortions. Only 21% of Americans would allow elective abortions past the first trimester, down from 24%
Assuming the numbers aren’t outliers, they appear to be a reaction to a month’s worth of national attention on a series of bills proposed in several states that would allow effectively unrestricted abortion up until birth, as well as congressional Democrats’ opposition to legislation that would mandate medical care for infants who survive attempted abortions.
“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. “The recent legal changes to late-term abortion and the debate which followed have not gone unnoticed by the general public. In just one month, 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.”
KofC explains that the change was actually driven by self-described Democrats and respondents younger than 45, further supporting the hypothesis that Democrats’ latest positions are alienating their own. “This is the first time since 2009 that as many or more Americans have identified as pro-life as have identified as pro-choice,” the group adds.
Other polls have found the same result much more recently; last summer, Gallup found “pro-life” and “pro-choice” self-identification tied at 48%, with a combined 53% of Americans thinking abortion should be legal in “few” or “no” circumstances (which Gallup has consistently found at or above 54% from 1995 through 2017). Other surveys, including CNN/ORC International polls from 2006 to 2016 and past Marist polls, consistently find majority support for either entirely banning abortion or limiting it to rape, incest, or medical emergencies.
The only major aspect of the abortion debate on which the abortion lobby enjoys strong majority support is on whether to overturn Roe v. Wade, but pro-lifers argue those results are largely a byproduct of widespread ignorance about the 1973 ruling’s history and effects. Last month’s Marist poll found that 65% of Americans think the Supreme Court should either let states set their own abortion laws or ban abortion itself, which KofC’s Andrew Wheeler notes “would functionally overturn it.”
It remains to be seen if Marist’s latest findings represent a deeper long-term change, but other recent polls from The Polling Company, Inc./WomanTrend (commissioned by Students for Life) and McLaughlin & Associates (commissioned by Susan B. Anthony List) find strong opposition to late-term abortion.