A Marist Poll released Monday, Feb. 25, shows a dramatic shift in Americans' attitudes toward abortion within the last month, with 47 percent of respondents now self-identifying as “pro-life.” The most dramatic change has been among Democrats, who moved from 20 percent pro-life in January, to 34 percent in the most recent study.
It appears that radical abortion legislation in the past month – such as New York's legalization of late-term abortion and even infanticide, a proposed bill in Virginia which would significantly loosen existing restrictions on third-trimester abortions and grant doctors and mothers the right to determine whether a newborn infant should live or die, and a radically pro-abortion bill which has passed the State House in Vermont and is moving forward to the Senate, and new pro-abortion initiatives in Rhode Island and Illinois – has caused Americans to rethink their views on abortion.
Barbara Carvalho, director of the Marist Poll, explained that current proposals promoting late-term abortion “have reset the landscape and language on abortion in a pronounced – and very measurable – way.” According to Carvalho, “The recent legal challenges to late-term abortion and the debate which followed have not gone unnoticed by the general public... there has been a significant increase in the proportion of Americans who see themselves as pro-life, and an equally notable decline in those who describe themselves as pro-choice.”
The survey, which was conducted Feb. 12-17, shows that for the first time since 2009, an equal number of Americans identify as pro-life (47 percent) as pro-abortion (47 percent). By an overwhelming majority (71 percent to 25 percent), Americans say that abortion should be illegal during the third trimester. And opposition to late-term abortion crosses party lines: That strong majority includes 60 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of independents, and 85 percent of Republicans. And only 18 percent of Americans think that abortion should be legal up until birth.
A second remarkable finding in the study is the pro-life shift among young Americans. One month ago, only 20 percent of younger Americans under the age of 45 identified as pro-life, with 75 percent calling themselves pro-choice. The newest study finds a substantial increase in opposition to abortion, with 34 percent now calling themselves “pro-life” as compared to 61 percent who continue to support abortion.
In addition, the Marist Poll found that even those who support abortion under some circumstances would like to retain limits on the procedure. In all, 80 percent of Americans would like to see abortion limited to the first three months of pregnancy.
The Marist Poll's findings are particularly significant today, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has scheduled a Feb. 25 vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (S. 311), which is sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and 49 co-sponsors. The bill has been proposed six times in the House and once in the Senate, but each attempt has been defeated by Congressional Democrats, led by Washington Democrat Patty Murray.
Today's planned vote on S. 311 may be the one that finally reaches the Senate floor, requiring our political leaders to take a stand in opposition to infanticide, or to admit that they do not share the viewpoint of their constituents. If Democrats are truly responsive to the citizens whom they purportedly serve, they may be influenced by public opinion to reconsider and permit this bill to come to a vote – and ultimately, to move forward to protect newborn infants who survive abortions.