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The Gallup Pro-Choice Number

- May 23, 2012

A new Gallup poll shows that the percent of Americans calling themselves pro-choice has fallen to 41%.  In 2008, when that number hit 42%, there was a predictable flurry of news attention.  So I want to call attention to what I wrote then. In short, this “pro-life” vs. “pro-choice” question obscures the true nature of American attitudes toward abortion.  Support for the right to abortion depends strongly on the circumstances of the pregnancy.  They cannot be summarized with the labels “pro-choice” and “pro-life.”

Moreover, and most importantly, more nuanced measures show little of the fluctuation that Gallup’s pro-choice vs. pro-life measure shows.  Indeed Gallup’s new poll confirms this finding:

bq. However, it is notable that while Americans’ labeling of their position has changed, their fundamental views on the issue have not.

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