A new report from Pew finds that the Obama presidency has ushered in a decline in support for abortion, such that Americans are now about equally divided between those who think it should be legal in all or most cases and those who don’t. But there’s no shortage of other polling on the subject–Laurie Goodstein reviews a bunch of it–and it’s far from clear that Pew’s small shift amounts to anything much. If it does, the shift is mostly comprised of a decline in the number of those who think abortion should be legal in all cases and a rise in the number of those who either don’t know or refuse to answer. Actual opposition to abortion, in other words, has remained about the same.
Is there any meaning to be drawn from this? Cathy Grossman notes the interesting finding that most of those who favor abortion rights find the opposite view respectable, whereas a plurality of prolifers don’t find the pro-choice position respectable. Put that together with Gallup’s finding that more Americans are now calling themselves pro-life, including many who support abortion rights, and what we may have is a situation in which it is less acceptable to admit to being pro-choice than it used to be. But not necessarily one in which fewer people are pro-choice.