I want to begin by saying moral questions of right and wrong cannot be decided by popular vote. If something is objectively evil, it doesn't matter if the majority of people think it is permissible. Wrong is still wrong.
That being said, I recently read an article that gave some interesting statistics about Americans' view of abortion from recent Gallup poll data. I thought it very informative, given that I frequently hear people speak of how evenly divided our country is on this issue. Indeed, in 2011, when Gallup asked the question, "With respect to the abortion issue, would you consider yourself to be pro-choice or pro-life?" 49% responded pro-life, while 45% responded "pro-choice." This is a pretty even divide (though it must be noted that in 1995 when asked the same question, pro-choicers won out by a 56% to 33% majority, so Americans are self-identifying more and more as pro-life).
But the interesting thing about the Gallup poll is that it doesn't just leave it at that. It asks further questions, and if we dig a little deeper we begin to get a more complete story of just how most Americans view abortion. For example, Gallup also asks, "Do you think abortion should be legal in most circumstances or only in a few circumstances?" In 2012, only 38% of Americans replied that abortion should be legal in most circumstances.
Also according to Gallup's latest poll, 69% of Americans favor a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion. Only 28% oppose a waiting period. 50% support showing women an ultrasound before an abortion. And 71% support requiring parental consent (not mere notification) for girls under 18 seeking abortions.
Americans also support spousal notification laws 64% to 34% (requiring husbands to be notified if a wife seeks an abortion). A whopping 87% support requiring women to be told all the risks of abortions before having one. And 88% support telling women about abortion alternatives.
When it comes to the so-called "hard cases," 83% of Americans favor abortions to save the life of the mother and 75% support abortion for cases of rape or incest. Sadly, 50% of Americans also favor abortions for eugenics (cases of birth defects). However, these such cases account for only 3% of all abortions performed in this country.
When it comes to the other 97% of abortions performed, most Americans oppose most abortions. Americans oppose abortions for financial reasons by a 61% to 36% margin. Americans oppose second-trimester abortions 71% to 34%. And we oppose third trimester abortions by 86% to 10%.
Gallup also gives statistics by political affiliation. When asked whether they identify as "pro-life" or "pro-choice" we see no surprises. 67% of Republicans identify as pro-life, but only 41% of independents and 27% of Democrats. However, when asked if they would favor banning most abortions, 79% of Republicans replied yes, as did 60% of independents and 44% of Democrats.
What should we take home from all this? Despite the fact that most Americans oppose most abortions, those in the radical pro-abortion minority are taking advantage of the fact that most Americans think there should be some access to abortion in rare cases. As stated above, only 10% of Americans think third-trimester abortions should be permitted. But every single pro-abortion (or "reproductive rights") advocacy group in the US supports third-trimester abortions. Meanwhile they insist that "pro-lifers" do not represent main-stream America.
Finally, when compared to responses to these same questions asked 10 or 20 years ago, the pro-life numbers are steadily rising. More Americans wake up every day to the horrors of abortion, and more and more realize the scientific fact that life begins at conception and abortion is nothing short of an intentional destruction of an innocent human life. There is every reason to believe that the pro-life movement will continue to make significant progress in changing the culture of this nation into a culture of life.