The percentage of Americans who call themselves “pro-life” is now the same as those who consider themselves “pro-choice” as a new poll has found that the number of Democrats who call themselves “pro-life” has drastically increased in the last month.
The new poll conducted by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion on behalf of the Catholic fraternal organization Knights of Columbus interviewed 1,008 adults across the U.S. over the phone between Feb. 12 and Feb. 17, with a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
The survey marked the first time since 2009 that Marist has found an equal number of respondents saying they’re “pro-life” (47 percent) as are those who say they’re “pro-choice.”
In January, a previous Marist survey found that Americans were more likely to identify as pro-choice than they are to identify as pro-life by a 55 percent to 38 percent margin.
While that same poll from January found that only 20 percent of Democrats proclaimed themselves to be pro-life, 34 percent of Democrats identified as “pro-life” in the February polling. Meanwhile, the number of Democrats identifying as pro-choice dropped from 75 percent in January to 61 percent in February.
As a result, the gap between pro-life and pro-choice Democrats was cut in half from 55 percent to 27 percent.
“The shift in this poll was across the board but most pronounced among two groups: adults under 45 years of age and Democrats,” Marist poll director Barbara Carvalho told The Christian Post. “Given that younger Americans are more likely to identify as Democrat than older adults, this makes sense. The public debate on abortion in the past month has focused on late-term abortion, a policy that many Americans have serious concerns about.”
The new poll found an increase in younger Americans (under 45) claiming to be pro-life. Forty-seven percent of them are using the pro-life label to describe themselves while 48 percent saying they’re pro-choice. In January, only 28 percent of younger Americans identified as pro-life while 65 percent identified as pro-choice.
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“The Democrats have a dilemma as they head into the primary season for 2020,” Carvalho contends.
“On the one hand, they will need to appeal to the activists in the party in order to be successful in the primaries. Yet on the other hand, by so doing, they will be moving farther away from an acceptable position on abortion for most Americans. What is especially interesting in these survey results is that it is younger voters, millennials and others under 45, who were more likely to describe themselves as pro-life after the late-term abortion debate. This is exactly the group of voters Democrats hope to energize to be successful after the primary season.”
Carvalho explained that the poll’s results display the fact that the “discussion in the past month about late-term abortion did not go unnoticed by the public.”
Many have spoken out about a bill passed in the state of New York that would allow a child to be aborted up until the point of birth. Additionally, a Virginia abortion bill has stirred outrage because it would allow abortion up to 40 weeks of pregnancy.
During his State of the Union address this month, President Donald Trump criticized the New York bill, called for Congress to pass a late-term abortion ban and also slammed Virginia governor Ralph Northam for comments that Republicans say promoted infanticide.
The February Marist polling finds that 71 percent of respondents believe that abortion should generally be illegal during the third trimester of pregnancy, including 60 percent of Democrats, 72 percent independents and 85 percent of Republicans.
“Current proposals that promote late-term abortion have redefined the debate and these results show this is not where the consensus of American opinion is on the issue,” Carvalho stressed.
Marist has partnered with the Knights of Columbus to track questions about Americans’ beliefs on the abortion issue since 2008.
“The results from this poll, and others have consistently shown a consensus for restrictions that allow abortion to at most the first three months except to save the life of the mother,” Carvalho explained.
Last month’s Marist poll also found that most Americans want the Supreme Court’s landmark abortion ruling Roe v. Wade overturned in a way that allows certain abortion restrictions.