Americans Are Split Almost Exactly Down the Middle About Abortion RightsS

According to some cobbled-together polling data, the American electorate has been cleaved almost perfectly in half over the issue of abortion rights, though some analysts believe that many of those nominally pro-life voters think that abortion, ruffle their feathers though it may, should be legal.

LiveScience offers up a few separate polls for our perusing pleasure. A 2009 Pew Research Center poll, for example, found that 46 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases, while 44 percent believe that abortion should be illegal in most or all cases. That poll found that, within the faction of voters that wanted to see restricted abortion rights, only 18 percent held the Todd Akin view, i.e. that abortion should be tough-shit illegal, without any exceptions.

Pew reports that the numbers have hardly shifted in subsequent years, a finding bolstered by a more recent May 2012 Gallup poll (the most fool-proof of polling methods, to be sure), which found that 77 percent of Americans thought abortion should be always or almost always legal, while 20 percent though it should always be illegal. The real kicker, however, is that the 20 percent that believed abortion should be illegal without exception was far less that the almost 50 percent self-identifying as "pro-life," meaning that people who identify as "pro-life" don't necessarily reject abortion rights. (It also probably means that the epithet "pro-life" is pretty stupid, considering that it really means "anti-choice" or, more specifically, "uterine-meddler."

LiveScience also points out that, though there has been a recent flourish of high-profile (or high-volume) challenges to abortion rights, public opinion about abortion has remained relatively stable since the 1970s. However, stable as the sober polling statisticians may believe it is, public opinion has swung slightly to the right since the 70s, with 15 percent of Americans thinking that abortion should be illegal, as opposed to only 11 percent back in 1972. Three deflated cheers for progress.

What Americans Really Think About Abortions [LiveScience]