The conservative shift in Americans’ views on abortion that Gallup first recorded a year ago has carried over into 2010. Slightly more Americans call themselves “pro-life” than “pro-choice,” 47% vs. 45%, according to a May 3-6 Gallup poll. This is nearly identical to the 47% to 46% division found last July following a more strongly pro-life advantage of 51% to 42% last May.
While the two-percentage-point gap in current abortion views is not significant, it represents the third consecutive time Gallup has found more Americans taking the pro-life than pro-choice position on this measure since May 2009, suggesting a real change in public opinion. By contrast, in nearly all readings on this question since 1995, and each survey from 2003 to 2008, more Americans called themselves pro-choice than pro-life.
This is a great failing of the pro-choice movement, which has been content to operate with the benefit of a judicial monopoly on the issue and has failed to make its case with the American people. Pro-life forces, by contrast and with the aid of new technology, have been able to pull Americans to their side of the debate. What is now sustaining the abortion-on-demand regimen is the Supreme Court’s judicial fiat. Without that, Americans would devise some diverse compromises on a state-by-state basis, as they do for many areas of public policy. The degree to which judicial activism has pre-empted that is clearer now than it has ever been.