50% of Americans Pro Life

The often media-scorned pro life movement has made major inroads among the American people, according to the latest Gallup Poll.  Those who identify themselves as “pro life” now outnumber those who see themselves as “pro choice,” with the latter category at its nadir (41%) since before the turn of the century.  From the poll:

The 41% of Americans who now identify themselves as “pro-choice” is down from 47% last July and is one percentage point below the previous record low in Gallup trends, recorded in May 2009. Fifty percent now call themselves “pro-life,” one point shy of the record high, also from May 2009.

Pro life self identity has grown among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.

When you look at the poll, the pro life side has been the plurality/majority view for several years.  The question is why? Here’s my take:

  • The pro life movement has science on their side. A fetus is a human being in the gestating stage. He or she isn’t a parasite nor a tissue mass.
  • The pro choice side became too strident and absolutist–as in fighting the bans on partial birth abortion and insisting on making abortion available to minors without parental consent.
  • Just as in the gay rights issue, familiarity breeds acceptance.  Many people know pro life activists and understand they are not the kind of uncaring people the media and pro choice activists like to paint.
  •  America remains a generally religious nation. Not all pro lifers are religious, to be sure, but the power of faith as a motivator on this issue can’t be denied.

Saying one is pro life isn’t the same thing as saying abortion should be outlawed.  But it does show, I think, that those who work indefatigable to value the lives of the unborn are respectable and mainstream.  And that means the incremental approach activists have taken on this issue for decades is slowly working.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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