An increasingly secular country that is becoming increasingly “pro life”

What if anything does it tell us that while a majority of Americans still say abortion should be legal, a majority now considers themselves pro life? Nancy Gibbs of TIME writes

First and foremost are the labels, which cloud the issue by oversimplifying it — that’s why the advocates picked them. Most people are neither pro-choice nor pro-life, but both; we cherish life, we value choice, and we trade them off with great reluctance…..

But if we place any stock at all in those labels, something dramatic has happened. In 1995, when Gallup started asking the question, the split was 56-33 in favor of abortion rights. Now the lines have crossed, and 51% call themselves pro-life while only 42% say they are pro-choice….

Gallup attributes the new numbers to Republicans’ purifying their views: 70% now call themselves pro-life, up 10 points in a year. But that’s to be expected; when fewer people call themselves Republican, the party condenses into a pool of true believers. It’s the people in the middle who are constantly weighing which restrictions are reasonable….

I […] wonder if younger women are now sure enough of their sexual autonomy and their choices generally that they don’t view limits on abortion as attacks on their overall freedom….

My theory? People always apply the brakes to whichever side has the momentum.

Actually, Gallup found that on the Democrat side there was no change in the proportion saying they were pro life. Thus, if on the whole the population has become more pro life it has to be that it can’t be that the party has condensed into a pool of true believers. Further, as people have switched away from the Republicans toward the Democrats you would expect — all else equal — that the proportion of pro-lifes there to have increased. Evidently, as folks have switched party allegiances either also switched their views or were representative of the pro-life/pro-choice spectrum that existed on the left.

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