As mentioned earlier, the latest Gallup poll shows that significantly more Americans self-identify as pro-life this year than did last year. Might it have something to do with the increasing prominence of the debate?
The Gallup poll shows a surprising reversal in people's self-identification — and shows that largest percentage of Americans ever identify as pro-life.
A new Gallup Poll, conducted May 7-10, finds 51% of Americans calling themselves "pro-life" on the issue of abortion and 42% "pro-choice." This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.
The new results, obtained from Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs survey, represent a significant shift from a year ago, when 50% were pro-choice and 44% pro-life. Prior to now, the highest percentage identifying as pro-life was 46%, in both August 2001 and May 2002.
What changed in the last year? I mean, there were the infanticide smears and the fake FOCA controversy and the reversal of the global gag rule and, now all the anti-abortion advocates who keep screaming about Obama being the most pro-abortion President ever and his speech at Notre Dame. It seems, slowly, that the anti-abortion folks are being incrementally successful in defining "pro-choice" as "very, very pro-abortion".
While a majority of people are in favor of some sort of legalized abortion — 22 percent say it should be legal under all circumstances and 53 percent say it should be legal in some circumstances — it seems that the always-legal camp is losing ground to the sometimes-legal... and the sometimes-legal is heading even further right. Last year, 28 percent of people thought it should always be legal; this year only 22 percent do; and 13 percent thought it should be legal under most circumstances, while this year 15 percent do. But while last year 40 percent of Americans thought abortion should be legal in only a few circumstances, this year only 37 percent do; and the number of anti-abortion Americans has increased from 17 to 23 percent (which the exact percentage that the choice-iest pro-choice column lost). Most of the increase can be traced to Republicans, Protestants and Catholics who are becoming increasingly pro-life — despite last year's party registration losses to Democrats — and a loss of pro-choice women and men.
Julie Rover's NPR segment today suggests that it's likely to get worse for the pro-choice movement before it gets better because there are so many little heretofore unnoticed abortion barriers that Obama will have to confront.
The next place that's likely to happen is on the 13 appropriations bills that fund the government. Over the years, language has been added to many of the bills that restrict federal funds from being used for abortion or abortion-related activities.
The oldest and best known is the so-called Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding for abortion in the Medicaid program.
It means that, for many poor women, they don't have the money to ensure access to abortion, and that's the way the right likes it.
Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee says the Hyde Amendment has been one of the most effective anti-abortion laws ever enacted. "At the very minimum, there are over one million Americans walking around today alive because of the Hyde Amendment," he says.
Yeah, let's celebrate the using the government to force women to bring children to term!
But the Hyde Amendment is just the tip of the legislative iceberg.
The appropriations bills also contain many other abortion-related spending limits, ranging from bans on private insurance companies that cover federal workers being allowed to offer abortion as an option, to bans on the District of Columbia being allowed to use locally-raised tax dollars to pay for abortion for its residents.
And if you think that the anti-abortion movement won't scream, shout, holler, threaten, and do everything it can to make sure Americans know more about getting rid of those restrictions, then you probably haven't been paying attention for the last year. But plenty of people in the middle have, and they're not moving toward the middle.