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Poll Check: A Shift on Abortion?

Both foes and supporters of legal abortion should sit back and take a broad view before overreacting to Thursday's release of new poll numbers showing a big shift in Americans' attitudes about abortion.

The reason for skepticism (or at least restraint) is simple: other polls, including the Washington Post-ABC News poll, have not picked up such a basic reorientation on this divisive issue.

With their new data, Pew shows a sizable drop from 2008 to 2009 in the percentage of Americans saying abortion should be "legal in all cases" or "legal in most cases," a move that coincides with the election of a pro-choice president. Earlier this year, Gallup caused a stir with a similar finding: that the number of "pro-life" Americans for the first time outnumbered those describing themselves as "pro-choice." (A tilt back the other way two months later picked up little notice.)

Elsewhere the trend is decidedly different, as there has been no fundamental realignment on the question of legal abortion in Post-ABC polls (we ask the identical question). Nor have recent Post polls in Virginia picked up any such change in that key swing state. National polls by the AP, CBS News and the New York Times and Quinnipiac University also show no big increase in opposition to legal abortion.

One finding in Pew's own report is a head-scratcher in explaining any major adjustment in views: in the poll, only 5 percent said their views on abortion have changed in recent years, with most of those saying they've tilted toward being "more supportive of a woman's right to choose an abortion."

While it seems too early to declare a shift, it is possible this year's varying poll results are a sign that opinions thought settled for a decade are now in flux. We will all be watching.

By Jon Cohen  |  October 1, 2009; 1:42 PM ET
 
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Comments

Not only is abortion murder of a child (does anyone remember "Thy shall not kill"? but the Americans need to multiply as now many couples are having no children or one child, some two. We are slowly decreasing and the Muslims are multiplying like made. The Muslims will be the majority in Western Europe by the turn of the century as the original Europeans are not producing many children while the Muslims are producing them in abundance. Do not let our nation become a nation of Islamic majority and do not murder innocent children.

Posted by: libertymeanslife | October 1, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the reason the polls keep changing on this is that the terms "pro-life" and "pro-choice" resonate with fewer and fewer people these days.

I consider myself staunchly pro-choice, but I hate being asked "Do you consider yourself pro-life?"

No one is "anti-life"! Of course I'm pro-life, including first and foremost the healthy life of the already living woman who may choose to have an abortion. So I find it difficult to say "yes" or "no" to a pollster asking this question, as I imagine others do.

Posted by: spindc | October 2, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

This person is totally right we all need to:
1- have as many kids as possible
2- Only teach them the bible
3- Have an all cage match for the ages!!!
4- Winner take all.

We cant let those evils Muslims win :(

(I am not sure if this comment below was a joke like mine but lets all hope it is)

Not only is abortion murder of a child (does anyone remember "Thy shall not kill"? but the Americans need to multiply as now many couples are having no children or one child, some two. We are slowly decreasing and the Muslims are multiplying like made. The Muslims will be the majority in Western Europe by the turn of the century as the original Europeans are not producing many children while the Muslims are producing them in abundance. Do not let our nation become a nation of Islamic majority and do not murder innocent children.

Posted by: gplocher | October 2, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately I believe that libertymeanslife is serious in expressing their fear of an Islamic majority. I was shocked to have a friend share the very same concern last week, which I interpreted to mean that the evangelicals have their short on backwards again and are looking for scapegoats to hate. It’s unfortunate that we Americans have such a narrow interpretation of pro-choice and pro-life. Just as a previous response shared ,life isn’t that simple as most of us would not wish harm on another person however condemning someone for choosing to have an abortion without knowing the facts has always seem narrow minded I have always believed that we should all walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before we comment on their choices

Posted by: jedold | October 2, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Yes to simplicity and rank ignorance and you are right about fear playing a huge role in the constant hash of this issue...however it is a fear from all angles and sides.
PLEASE people, if we are going to be cosistent we have to refrain from narrow interpetations of evangelicals as well.
All of the ones that I know are motivated very simply from a belief in the dignity and value of human life...of personhood....for the unborn,as well as their fellow Muslim and "pro-choice" American.
If this poll is reflective of a current trend, perhaps that can be attributed to the growing awareness of Personhood as the root of the matter.
There are many shared overlapping desires here, and much common ground.
Debating what it is that actually defines something as "human" in an age of taboo and groundbreaking science has become to many THE crucial question.
Then comes, "What is it's value to us? Is anyone ever disposable? How should we defend life? What does respect for all parties concerned look like?" etc
Are we willing to ask these questions too?
Could be time for us to put our ears to the ground, listen and engage with the current reality of a more awakened national conscience.
Otehrwise we may be left behind to wallow alone in the emotional hogwash that has derailed a respectful dialogue in the past while more mature minds go on to decide the future.

Posted by: RachelCDettmann | October 8, 2009 2:04 AM | Report abuse

Yes to simplicity and rank ignorance, and you are right about fear playing a huge role in the constant hash of this issue...however, it is a fear from all angles and sides.
PLEASE people, if we are going to be cosistent we have to begin refraining from narrow interpetations of evangelicals as well.
All of the ones that I know are motivated very simply from a belief in the dignity and value of human life...of personhood....for the unborn,as well as their fellow Muslim and "pro-choice" American.
If this poll is reflective of a current trend, perhaps that can be attributed to the growing awareness of Personhood as the root of the matter.
Jus have a squiz at http://www.personhood.net/
There are many shared overlapping desires here, and much common ground.
Debating what it is that actually defines something as "human" in an age of taboo and groundbreaking science has become to many THE crucial question.
Then comes, "What is it's value to us? Is anyone ever disposable? How should we defend life? What does respect for all parties concerned look like?" etc
Are we willing to ask these questions too?
Could be time for us to put our ears to the ground, listen and engage with the current reality of a more awakened national conscience.
Otherwise we might find ourselves left behind wallowing in the emotional hogwash that has derailed respectful dialogue in the past while balanced minds join forces to decide a more mature future.

Posted by: RachelCDettmann | October 8, 2009 2:13 AM | Report abuse

Yes to simplicity and rank ignorance, and you are right about fear playing a huge role in the constant hash of this issue...however, it is a fear from all angles and sides.
PLEASE people, if we are going to be cosistent we have to begin refraining from narrow interpetations of evangelicals as well.
All of the ones that I know are motivated very simply from a belief in the dignity and value of human life...of personhood....for the unborn,as well as their fellow Muslim and "pro-choice" American. By the way, how many evangelicals do you know?
If this poll is reflective of a current trend, perhaps that can be attributed to the growing awareness of Personhood as the root of the matter.
Just have a squiz at http://www.personhood.net/
There are many shared overlapping desires here, and much common ground.
Debating what it is that actually defines something as "human" in an age of taboo and ground breaking science has become to many THE crucial question.
Then comes, "What is it's value to us? Is anyone ever disposable? How should we defend life? What does respect for all parties concerned look like?" etc
Are we willing to ask these questions too?
Could be time for us to put our ears to the ground, listen and engage with the current reality of a more awakened national conscience.
Otherwise we might find ourselves left behind wallowing in the emotional hogwash that has derailed respectful dialogue in the past while balanced minds join forces to decide a more mature future.

Posted by: RachelCDettmann | October 8, 2009 2:16 AM | Report abuse

Yes to simplicity and rank ignorance, and you are right about fear playing a huge role in the constant hash of this issue...however, it is a fear from all angles and sides.
PLEASE people, if we are going to be cosistent we have to begin refraining from narrow interpetations of evangelicals as well.
All of the ones that I know are motivated very simply from a belief in the dignity and value of human life...of personhood....for the unborn,as well as their fellow Muslim and "pro-choice" American. By the way, how many evangelicals do you know?
If this poll is reflective of a current trend, perhaps that can be attributed to the growing awareness of Personhood as the root of the matter.
Just have a squiz at http://www.personhood.net/
There are many shared overlapping desires here, and much common ground.
Debating what it is that actually defines something as "human" in an age of taboo and ground breaking science has become to many THE crucial question.
Then comes, "What is it's value to us? Is anyone ever disposable? How should we defend life? What does respect for all parties concerned look like?" etc
Are we willing to ask these questions too?
Could be time for us to put our ears to the ground, listen and engage with the current reality of a more awakened national conscience.
Otherwise we might find ourselves left behind wallowing in the emotional hogwash that has derailed respectful dialogue in the past while balanced minds join forces to decide a more mature future.

Posted by: RachelCDettmann | October 8, 2009 2:17 AM | Report abuse

Yes to simplicity and rank ignorance, and you are right about fear playing a huge role in the constant hash of this issue...however, it is a fear from all angles and sides.
PLEASE people, if we are going to be cosistent we have to begin refraining from narrow interpetations of evangelicals as well.
Do you know any?
It is my experiance that they are motivated very simply from a belief in the dignity and value of human life...of personhood....for the unborn,as well as their fellow Muslim and "pro-choice" American.
If this poll is reflective of a current trend, perhaps that can be attributed to the growing awareness of Personhood as the root of the matter.
websites such as http://www.personhood.net/
are having an increasingly widespread influence.
Viewed with clarity we might find many shared overlapping desires here, and common ground.
Debating what it is that actually defines something as "human" in an age of taboo and ground breaking science has become to many THE crucial question.
Then comes, "What is it's value to us? Is anyone ever disposable? How should we defend life? What does respect for all parties concerned look like?" etc
Are we willing to ask these questions too?
Could be time for us to put our ears to the ground, listen and engage with the current reality of a more awakened national conscience.
Otherwise we might find ourselves left behind wallowing in the emotional hogwash that has derailed respectful dialogue in the past while balanced minds join forces to decide a more mature future.

Posted by: RachelCDettmann | October 8, 2009 2:32 AM | Report abuse

Yes to simplicity and rank ignorance, and you are right about fear playing a huge role in the constant hash of this issue...however, it is a fear from all angles and sides.
PLEASE people, if we are going to be consistent we have to refrain from narrow interpetations of evangelicals as well.
Do you know many evangelicals?
I do, and everyone of them is motivated very simply from a belief in the dignity and value of human life...of personhood....for the unborn,as well as their fellow Muslim and "pro-choice" American.
If this poll is reflective of a current trend, perhaps that can be attributed to the growing awareness of Personhood as the root of the matter.
Websites such as
http://www.personhood.net/
are making news.
Viewed with clarity, we might find more shared,overlapping desires, and common ground than we had realized.
Debating what it is that actually defines something as "human" in an age of taboo and ground breaking science has become to many THE crucial question.
Then comes, "What is it's value to us? Is anyone ever disposable? How should we defend life? What does respect for all parties concerned look like?" etc
Do we call ourselves liberal thinkers? Are we willing to ask these questions too?
Could be time for us to put our ear to the ground, listen and engage with the current reality of a more awakened national conscience.
Otherwise we might find ourselves left behind wallowing in the emotional hogwash that has derailed respectful dialogue in the past while balanced minds join forces to decide a more mature future.

Posted by: RachelCDettmann | October 8, 2009 2:53 AM | Report abuse

Hahaaha. Talk about public debate...how about public editing...way to say my piece...over and over again....oops...sorry bout that.

Posted by: RachelCDettmann | October 8, 2009 4:09 AM | Report abuse

Hahaha...talk about public debate! How about public editing? Way to say my piece...over and over again...OOPS...and ah me. Sigh!
I suppose transparency is good and how many mispelled words one can type in six attempts without a spell checker is perhaps a less than humourous reflection on our educational system...but that is another debate:)
Please excuse.

Posted by: RachelCDettmann | October 8, 2009 4:17 AM | Report abuse

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