Mirroring the Gallup Poll in May, the Pew Research Center has released a poll showing a shift in American opinion away from abortion on demand.
-- From "Support Appears to Drop for Abortion Rights" by Laurie Goodstein, New York Times 10/1/09
A 2008 poll by Pew researchers had found that those in favor of keeping abortion legal outnumbered opponents, 54 percent to 40 percent. In the new Pew poll, the gap has narrowed: 47 percent of those surveyed said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and 45 percent said it should be illegal in all or most cases — a difference within the poll’s margin of sampling error.
The new survey did not find the reasons for the shift in opinion. But Pew researchers pointed out that the shift has occurred since the election of President Obama, a Democrat who supports abortion rights but has often spoken about the need to reduce the number of abortions. New York Times/CBS News polls, as well as others, found no such shift after Bill Clinton — also a Democrat who supports abortion rights — took office. Pew has no comparable data on the issue dating back that far.
The change found in the new Pew poll happened among many demographic groups, to varying degrees — among women and men; Republicans, Democrats and independents; Protestants, Catholics and Jews; whites and Hispanics. There was no change among blacks and people who have no religious affiliation.
“The size of the shift is modest, but the consistency with which we see it occurring and the implications it has for the overall dynamics of the debate make it significant,” said Gregory Smith, a senior researcher at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
Asked how Mr. Obama will handle the abortion issue . . . Four in 10 of those polled were unaware of Mr. Obama’s stance on abortion.
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