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Poll: For first time in three years, most Americans support abortion rights

The number of Americans who self-identify as abortion rights advocates grew by 4 percent while the number identifying as anti-abortion rights advocates shrank by three percent, according to a new national poll. The new distribution marks the first time in about three years that most Americans believe a woman should have the right to choose.

Currently, 49 percent of Americans label themselves as “pro-choice” while 45 percent say they are “pro-life,” according to the results of a new Gallup poll.

When it comes to morality, however, 51 percent of Americans indicate they believe abortion is “morally wrong.” Thirty-nine percent believe abortion is “morally acceptable.” Gallup notes that views toward the morality of abortion have remain mostly steady since 2002, save for a dip to 44 percent in the “morally wrong” column in 2006.

Perhaps the most interesting measure from the poll is Gallup’s longest-running, which asks Americans if abortion should be legal in under any circumstances, legal only under certain circumstances, or illegal in all circumstances. The vast majority of Americans, unsurprisingly, continue to take the middle ground on this question. In the latest results, 50 percent of respondents said they believe that abortion should be legal only under certain circumstances — but that number is a significant decrease from earlier in the decade, and is closing on an all-time low of 48 percent from around 1993.

In contrast, both extreme viewpoints significantly increased. Those saying that abortion should be legal in all circumstances jumped from 21 to 27 percent, while those who believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances grew from 18 to 22 percent.

Pollsters found the gender divide on either side of the issue to be nearly identical, with only rudimentary differences based on respondents’ ages. The largest distinction, they said, was found along political party lines.

Two-thirds of Republicans call themselves pro-life, while two-thirds of Democrats are pro-choice. Independents’ stance on abortion is closer to Democrats’ than Republicans’ stance, with 51 percent calling themselves “pro-choice” and 41 percent “pro-life.”

Accordingly, Republicans and Democrats also differ in their views on the morality and legality of abortion. Nearly three-quarters of Republicans consider abortion morally wrong and nearly 8 in 10 say abortion should be legal in only a few circumstances or illegal in all circumstances. By contrast, just over half of Democrats believe abortion is morally acceptable and say abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances.

Political independents are evenly divided on the moral correctness of abortion, but they tilt fairly strongly toward restrictive abortion laws, with 60 percent saying abortion should be legal in a few or no circumstances.

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