Polling Life
Reading Gallup’s latest abortion polling.

(© 2012 Gallup, Inc.)


These new numbers from Gallup showing 50 percent of Americans identifying themselves as pro-life reconfirm (yet again) what we’ve long known: The Roe v. Wade policy of abortion for any reason doesn’t sit well with the majority of Americans.

But the self-identification question doesn’t tell the real story.

Read further and you’ll find a far more accurate picture of the country’s attitudes on abortion in this question: “Do you think abortions should be legal under any/only under certain/illegal in all circumstances?” (Gallup further probes to break down “certain circumstances” into “most” and “few.”)

A substantial majority — 59 percent — opposes the vast majority of the 1.2 million annual abortions (20 percent “illegal in all” and 39 percent “legal only in a few.”) According to Gallup’s own data, these combined figures have garnered a majority in every Gallup poll since 1994.

It is also noteworthy that no more than one-fourth of Americans favor abortion being legal for all reasons. Yet in our nation’s capital, the District of Columbia, the law allows abortion until birth for any reason — a scandal that Congress must correct by passing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 3803).

These new Gallup numbers again underscore the fact that right-to-life efforts on behalf of mothers and their unborn children are touching hearts and changing minds.

— Carol Tobias is president of the National Right to Life Committee.

I should think that the answer is obvious. My book The Ethics of Abortion: Women’s Rights, Human Life and the Question of Justice appeared in print just a little over a year ago, and since then the number of people convinced by its arguments have driven down the number of people who describe themselves as “pro-choice.”

Actually, I’m not entirely joking. Not just this book, but other books and articles like it, and ultrasound videos of the human journey towards birth, and women who have talked about the pain of their abortions, and pictures of the unborn posted online by excited expectant mothers, and millions upon millions of conversations, private and public, have moved the hearts of more and more citizens towards a conclusion entirely resonant with the American project. We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all people, born and unborn, are endowed with inalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our efforts, in a dizzying array of projects, are paying off.

— Christopher Kaczor is a professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount Univesity in Los Angeles.

The last year has seen the framing of the abortion debate as one between activists for “women’s rights” and those mounting a “war on women.” We began hearing about this so-called war around the time that Congress tried to eliminate taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, again when the Susan G. Komen Foundation initially chose not to renew funding for Planned Parenthood, and now in the midst of the national debate about the Obama’s administration’s HHS mandate. Consequently, one would have expected this to be a very bad year for the pro-life movement. But as the Gallup numbers suggest, it was actually a very bad year for the abortion movement. The number of those calling themselves “pro-choice” is at the lowest level since Gallup began tracking these figures. And this is great cause for hope. My generation of men and women is making it through the haze of the spin that calls standing up for the most vulnerable among us a hatred of women, and we are pulling others out of the smoke with us. In fact, we are realizing that abortion is often used to target females and undermine women more generally. Women in particular are realizing that we do not need to accept the notion that ending life is the mark of a strong woman. We are rewriting the meaning of feminism. We are redrawing the lines of the war on women. And we are winning.  

— Ashley E. McGuire is founder and editor-in-chief of

Recent poll results, which show a significant decline in the number of Americans who identify themselves as “pro-choice,” will no doubt surprise many people. After all, didn’t the Supreme Court claim, in its Casey decision, that it had settled the issue of abortion? Hasn’t abortion become such an integral part of women’s health that it is impossible to conceive of American society without it? That is certainly the conventional wisdom. But this conventional wisdom is utterly wrong, because the power of the truth and love will always find a way into the human heart. As more people experience the wonder of modern sonograms and fetal photographs, they are enthralled by the beauty of human life. And they are repelled by the inhumanity of “pro-choice” advocates who callously speak of unborn people as disposable when inconvenient. People recognize that attitude as false, and unloving. The challenge for defenders of life is to build upon this fundamental sense of the truth about human life, and the love it engenders. Certainly, we must work for laws that give commonsense protection for the unborn, and that encourage the choice for life. But even more important, we must continue to give clear and unambiguous witness to love — by speaking with compassion and kindness about this issue, and by giving practical help to struggling mothers and fathers, and to those who are suffering after an abortion. More and more people are seeing the truth and rejecting the lies. And this is opening the human heart to the love that will ultimately transform our culture.

Edward T. Mechmann is assistant director of the Family Life/Respect Life Office at the Archdiocese of New York.


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