Gallupreleased the results of their annual abortion questionnaire yesterday. Since 1995 they have been asking Americans whether they identify as “pro-life” or “pro-choice.” When they asked the question in 1995, 56% of Americans considered themselves pro-choice and 33% pro-life. In 2012 the situation is nearly reversed with 50% identifying as pro-life and 41% as pro-choice.
Often in questionnaires about abortion people’s true positions get blurred by the legal vs. moral distinction. For example, someone may be opposed to abortion morally, but think people should have a legal right to an abortion. Such a person could rightly identify as either pro-choice or pro-life. To truly gauge people’s views on abortion we need to separate the legal question from the moral question. Gallupdid just that, asking people what they thought of the morality of abortion, apart from whether or not they think it should be legal. The result was 51% saying they thought abortion was morally wrong, while only 38% thought it was morally acceptable.