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Survey: Higher Percentage of U.S. Adults Say They Are 'Pro-Choice' Than 'Pro-Life'

Survey: Higher Percentage of U.S. Adults Say They Are 'Pro-Choice' Than 'Pro-Life'

June 1, 2015 — For the first time in seven years, a higher percentage of U.S. adults identify as "pro-choice" than "pro-life," according to a new Gallup survey, The Hill reports (Sullivan, The Hill, 5/29).

For the survey, researchers interviewed 1,024 U.S. adults by phone between May 6 and May 10 (Lerner, Politico, 5/29). According to The Hill, the Gallup poll did not provide definitions for the terms "pro-life" and "pro-choice" (The Hill, 5/29).

Key Findings

The survey found that 50% of U.S. residents describe themselves as pro-choice, including 46% of men and 54% of women (Politico, 5/29). In particular, the percentage of individuals between ages 35 and 55 who identify as pro-choice increased from 40% in 2012 to 52% in the latest Gallup survey (Kliff, Vox, 5/29). More than 50% of respondents younger than age 56 described themselves as pro-choice in the survey.

Meanwhile, 44% of survey respondents described themselves as pro-life, the lowest percentage in more than five years. Specifically, 47% of individuals ages 55 and up described themselves as pro-life (Politico, 5/29).

Overall, 29% of respondents to the new Gallup survey said abortion should be legal in all circumstances, while 13% said that abortion should be legal in "most" circumstances.

Meanwhile, 36% of respondents said abortion should be legal in a "few" circumstances, with 51% of individuals who identified as pro-life giving this response. Nineteen percent of respondents said abortion should not be legal in any circumstances (The Hill, 5/29).

Implications and Context

According to Politico, this survey marks the first time since 2008 that people identifying as pro-choice have outnumbered those identifying as pro-life to such a large degree. By contrast, a Gallup survey in 2012 found that the percentage of respondents who described themselves as pro-life outpaced those describing themselves as pro-choice by 9 percentage points (Politico, 5/29).

However, according to Vox, the pro-choice and pro-life terminology can be misleading. Separate polling has indicated that many U.S. residents prefer to identify as both pro-life and pro-choice or as neither rather than picking between pro-life or pro-choice. Further, more people tend to support abortion rights when polling questions are phrased to highlight the role of the woman in such decisions, Vox reports (Vox, 5/29).