Nearly half of all Americans consider themselves "pro-life" a new poll by Marist finds.
"In a substantial, double-digit shift, according to the poll, Americans are now as likely to identify as pro-life (47 percent) as pro-choice (47 percent). Just last month, a similar survey conducted by The Marist Poll found Americans more likely to identify as pro-choice than as pro-life by 17 percentage points (55 to 38 percent). Democrats moved in their pro-life identity from 20 percent to 34 percent," the poll 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 also found that 8 out of 10 Americans think abortion should be limited to the first three months of pregnancy, which is also up 5% since the previous poll.
Barbara Carvalho, who directed the new Marist poll, commissioned by the Knights of Columbus, said that Democrats and people under 45 are driving the numbers. "This month's poll found 34% of Democrats identify as pro-life vs. 61% pro-choice. Last month, those numbers were 20% and 75% respectively. Among Americans under 45, 47% identify as pro-life vs. 48% pro-choice. In January, those numbers were 28% and 65% respectively."
“Current proposals that promote late-term abortion have reset the landscape and language on abortion in a pronounced – and very measurable – way,” she said. "This has been a measure that has been so stable over time. To see that kind of change was surprising. And the increased discussion [of late-term abortion] in the public forum in the past month appears to have made the biggest difference in how people identify on the issue."
In his State of the Union address, President Trump ripped Democrats for permitting "a baby to be ripped from the mother's womb moments from birth," a reference to a procedure known as "partial-birth abortion."
Virginia's Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, proposed a bill to get rid of some state restrictions on late-term abortion and would've allowed abortion even after a mother was in labor. That proposal failed to clear a committee vote and the issue was eclipsed by accusations of racism against Northam.
In New York, the legislature passed a new law allowing abortion when there is "an absence of fetal viability."
"The recent legal changes to late-term abortion and the debate which followed have not gone unnoticed by the general public," said Carvalho. "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.”
Said the poll:
By an even wider margin (71 percent to 18 percent), Americans strongly oppose late-term abortion after 20 weeks. This 71 percent includes two-thirds (66 percent) who say abortion should be banned after 20 weeks of pregnancy except to save the life of the mother, and an additional five percent think abortion should be outlawed completely. Only 18 percent think abortion should be allowed at any time up until birth. Those opposing abortion after 20 weeks, or overall, include: 59 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of independents and 82 percent of Republicans.
In addition, the poll found that 80 percent of Americans would like abortion limited to – at most – the first three months of pregnancy -- an increase of five points since just last month. This includes 65 percent of those who identified as pro-choice, as well as strong majorities of Democrats (64 percent), Republicans (92 percent) and independents (83 percent).
The proportion overall has shown a consensus over time on the issue with three-quarters to eight-in-10 Americans supportive of restrictions on abortion. The 80 percent figure is, nevertheless, a significant increase since January – a noteworthy change in what has been a very stable measure.
See the full results here.