Recently, Americans have become more opposed to legal abortion. New analysis of combined Pew Research Center surveys conducted over the past three years shows that in 2007 and 2008, supporters of abortion rights clearly outnumbered opponents of abortion (those saying it should be illegal in most or all cases) by a 54%-40% margin. By contrast, in two major surveys conducted in 2009 among a total sample of more than 5,500 adults, views of abortion are about evenly divided, with 47% expressing support for legal abortion and 44% expressing opposition.
Republicans and Republican-leaning political independents have each become less pro-choice and more pro-life in recent polling. Democrats have also become less pro-choice, though by a somewhat smaller margin (four points less supportive of legal abortion). Democrats have not become more opposed to abortion; rather, they are now more likely to be undecided about the issue as compared with 2007/2008.
The 2009 polls find that gender differences now exist among Democrats. Among Democratic men, support for legal abortion has dropped nine percentage points from 2007/2008 to 2009 (62% to 53%) while support is unchanged among Democratic women (65% in 2007/2008 vs. 64% in 2009). This means that a significant gender gap over abortion now exists among Democrats, with Democratic women expressing more support for abortion rights than Democratic men (64% vs. 53%).
Read the full report Support For Abortion Slips on the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life Web site.