New Polling Data Shows Support for Pro-Life Position - May 1999

A new USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll shows what Gallup polls have been showing since 1975: Most Americans take a pro-life position even if they do not call themselves "pro-life."

The poll reveals that only one in four Americans, 27%, say abortions should be legal under any circumstances. The rest all take one of two pro-life positions: 16% say abortions should be illegal in all circumstances; and 55% say abortion should be legal only under certain rare circumstances, such as rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.

Overall, 71% of Americans oppose 97% or more of all abortions in the United States. However, that opposition doesn't transcend into whether people consider themselves "pro-life" or "pro-choice."

The poll shows that people who consider themselves "pro-choice" are no longer a majority. The figure is 48%, down from a high of 56% three years ago. There is no real gender difference: 49% of women are "pro-choice," 47% of men.

The number identifying themselves as "pro-life" has risen from 36% three years ago to 42% -- men 43%, women 42%.

Analysts attribute much of the "pro-life" gains to the massive educational campaign the pro-life community has conducted over the last several years regarding partial-birth abortion.

More than six in 10, 61%, say they favor making partial-birth abortions illegal, up from 55% two years ago. Support for keeping partial-birth abortions legal has dropped from 40% to 34% in the same period. Other polls have shown as many as 80% support making partial-birth abortions illegal.

Looking to the next elections: Fewer than one in five, 19%, say a candidate's views on abortion must match theirs to get their vote; 51% say abortion is just one of many important issues they consider; 27% say it is not an important factor in their vote at all.

The poll of 1,014 adults was taken Friday through Sunday. The error margin is +/- 3 percentage points.

Source: The Pro-Life Infonet, a daily compilation of pro-life news and information. To subscribe, send the message "subscribe" to: Infonet is sponsored by Women and Children First ( For more pro-life info visit and for questions or additional information email

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