By Aaron Earls
Americans are now evenly split between the pro-life and pro-choice labels, after a 9-percentage-point jump in those calling themselves pro-life.
The latest Marist poll finds 47 percent of Americans identify as pro-life and 47 percent identify as pro-choice. Just one month ago, however, Americans were more likely to identify as pro-choice than pro-life by 17 percentage points—55 to 38 percent.
The poll surveyed 1,008 American adults from February 17-19, 2019.
Barbara Carvalho, director of The Marist Poll, said the swing is likely due to recent controversial state measures that sought to protect abortions that occur late in pregnancies. One in New York passed, while a similar bill in Virginia was defeated.
“Current proposals that promote late-term abortions have reset the landscape and language on abortion in a pronounced—and very measurable—way,” she said.
This is the first time since 2009 that as many Americans have identified as pro-life as pro-choice in Marist’s poll.
The shift was led by changes among Democrats and young people.
In one month, the gap among Democrats between pro-choice and pro-life identifiers was cut in half (55 to 27 percentage points). Today, 34 percent of Democrats call themselves pro-life, up from 20 percent in January.
Younger Americans are closely split on abortion like the nation as a whole. Forty-seven percent say they are pro-life, and 48 percent say pro-choice. Last month, only 28 percent said they were pro-life, while 65 percent called themselves pro-choice.
Americans are not closely divided, however, on the issue of late-term abortions. More than 7 in 10 Americans (71 percent) say abortion should generally be illegal during the third trimester. Only 25 percent disagree.
When asked specifically about abortions after 20 weeks, 71 percent strongly oppose them—including 66 percent who say it should be banned except to save the life of the mother and 5 percent who think abortion should be outlawed completely.
Only 18 percent of Americans think abortion should be allowed at any time up until birth.
Overall, 8 in 10 (80 percent) would like abortion limited to the first three months of pregnancy at most, including 65 percent who identify as pro-choice.
Aaron is the senior writer/editor of LifewayResearch.com.