Saturday, May 16, 2009


For the first time since it began asking the question in 1995, Gallup reported Friday, a majority of adults questioned for its annual survey on values and beliefs -- 51% -- said that when it comes to abortion, they consider themselves "pro-life"; 42% consider themselves "pro-choice." (The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.) This represents a significant shift, Gallup noted. As recently as last year, 50% of respondents called themselves "pro-choice" and 44% identified themselves as "pro-life."
At the ends of the spectrum, the number of people who think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances has risen, to 22%, and the number who think it should be legal in any circumstances has fallen, to 23% -- a virtual tie. In the previous few years, people who opposed all restrictions outnumbered advocates of a total ban by a wider margin.
Do the math...this means 55% of the country either cannot form an opinion, or believe special circumstances must be the end all determinative factor. This is the kind of fuzzy math that will drive politicians crazy as they try to measure the pulse of their constituents. This kind of math may also effect the Obama supreme court nominee, as an individuals views on Roe V. Wade were always seen as a political lynch pin.
Of course one of the more prominent news stories touching on the abortion issue in recent months involves President Barack Obama's commencement speech and the bestowal of an honorary doctorate degree on him at the University of Notre Dame -- a Roman Catholic institution -- on Sunday. The invitation has drawn criticism from conservative Catholics and the church hierarchy because of Obama's policies in favor of legalizing and funding abortion, and the controversy might have been expected to strengthen the pro-life leanings of rank-and-file Catholics.
With the first pro-choice president in eight years already making changes to the nation's policies on funding abortion overseas, expressing his support for the Freedom of Choice Act, and moving toward rescinding federal job protections for medical workers who refuse to participate in abortion procedures, Americans -- and, in particular, Republicans -- seem to be taking a step back from the pro-choice position. However, the retreat is evident among political moderates as well as conservatives.
It is possible that, through his abortion policies, Obama has pushed the public understanding of what it means to be "pro-choice" slightly to the left, politically. While Democrats may support that, as they generally support everything Obama is doing as president, it may be driving others in the opposite direction.

No comments: