Wednesday, May 23, 2012


This is getting a lot of attention:

"Pro-Choice" Americans at Record-Low 41%

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.

Why is this happening? Well, I've written about this several times, most recently a year ago. For me it always comes back to the theory articulated in this L.A. Times article from 2000:

Typically when abortion rights are threatened, support for legal abortion rises, according to polling experts.

In the last decade, for example, previous polls show support for Roe peaking at 56% around 1991, when the decision was under attack across the country....

In 1992, the Supreme Court issued a decision upholding Roe, with some modifications. The same year, Clinton, an abortion rights supporter, was elected president. Both events appeared to reassure people there would be no dramatic changes in abortion policy. Subsequently, support for Roe began to decline.

In a 1996 poll, 46% of respondents endorsed Roe vs. Wade. By 1999, support had slipped slightly to 43%....

Look at the graph. Notice when the numbers were almost as much in the "pro-life" direction as they are now: 2009, just after the pro-choice Barack Obama took office. Abortion rights seemed safe, so people drifted away from the "pro-choice" self-identification.

Now look at the last time "pro-choice" beat "pro-life": 2011, a few months after the overwhelmingly anti-abortion GOP class of 2010 took their oaths of office in Congress, state houses, and state legislatures. Abortion right seemed under threat, so more people decided they were pro-choice.

What's going on now? Well, President Obama has recently gone out of his way to make sure you know he's a champion of reproductive rights. And another Gallup poll taken this month says that Americans believe Obama will win reelection, by a landslide 56%-36% margin.

So Americans think Obama will be president for four more years, therefore abortions right aren't threatened. And again they're drifting out of the "pro-choice" camp.

But just you wait: If Mitt Romney wins, "pro-choice" will be beating "pro-life" again.

(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)


Anonymous said...

"So Americans think Obama will be president for four more years, therefore abortions right aren't threatened. And again they're drifting out of the "pro-choice" camp."

Steve, that does not make any sense. Why would someone who supports and believes in abortion rights suddenly start opposing abortion rights because there's a pro-choice president in office?

If it's true that fewer Americans are polling pro-choice, that's dismaying. But explaining that shift with an explanation that makes no sense is not going to help anything.

And no, I don't know the reason why fewer Americans are polling pro-choice now. But I do know that I am pro-choice, that I've always been pro-choice, and that my pro-choice beliefs don't change depending on who's in the White House.

Kathy Kattenburg

Danp said...

I suspect it has far more to do with what type of people sit around and take these five minute surveys.

Danp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Victor said...

I don't know the reason either.

I've written about this before, and I think part of the problem is that too many young people, especially women, look at choice as a right (which is as it should be), like voting.

While the forces of darkness, Conservatives, after eliminating choice, want it to be a privilege. An illegal one - but a privilege, non-the-less.
Something only for the privileged few who will be able to find competent, and expensive, doctors here, or can fly to other countries for abortions for their wives, mistresses, and daughters.

I would have thought, with the barbaric misogynistic words of Conservatives, and actions in state legislatures, that MORE people would rally around contraception and choice, and against "Forced Labor."
And not just women - but men.

Maybe it's a backlash against Obama's support of gay marriage? I don't know.

Whatever the reason, Liberals and Progressives need to remind everyone that, while "The Handmaid's Tale" was a book that was written as a warning, Conservatives look at it as an Owners Manual - for women.

It's really up to you women - and the men who love and respect them.
Let Romney win, with a Republican Congress, and a Conservative court system, and Roe v. Wade will be gone in a Nebraska minute.

Of course, if you look at having control of your own body, not as a right, but as a privilege, then by all means, sit this election out, or vote for some other party.

The loss is not mine - I'm a 54
year-old male. I've done all of the supporting I can do during my adult life, and will continue to do so.
But the younger people need to pick-up the battle-flag.
After all, the child you may not want, or can't afford, won't be mine - it'll be yours.

We are too stupid a nation to exist much longer.
And Romney will speed that along.

Steve M. said...

It makes sense because a lot of people are on the fence. It's similar to the "I'm not a feminist, but..." phenomenon -- women (responding to anti-feminist propaganda) say they would never, ever call themselves feminists, then express support for precisely the goals feminism exists to advance.

People are encouraged not to align themselves with the progressive point of view, so they say they don't when they do -- or do but are conflicted.


A Pro-Choice captioning of factual humor