Change in America

Last year we had a national debate on race, noisy and contentious at
times but progressive nonetheless. This year, we’re having one about
abortion. Both were generated, somehow, by Barack Obama. He campaigned
on change, and (Congressional politics notwithstanding) we got it.

For the first time since Roe v. Wade, a majority of Americans declare themselves to be pro-life. American Spectator crunches the numbers.

Amidst the political setbacks for the right-to-life
movement, maybe the worst since the 1970s, the Gallup Poll reports that
51 percent of Americans call themselves “pro-life” on the issue of
abortion; 42 percent are “pro-choice.”

“This is the first time a majority of adults have identified
themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in
1995,” says Lydia Saad, writing for the Gallup organization on its

Time’s Nancy Gibbs analyzes this ground shift.

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. Good luck explaining that to someone who is politely
requesting a binary answer over the phone.

But if we place any stock at all in those labels, something dramatic has happened.

Again and again in news stories, folks in the middle (what one
friend calls ‘the radical middle’) are making the difference. They’re
moving. And engaging.

A new Pew poll finds that while a majority of
independents said abortion should be legal in most cases as recently as
October, just 44% do so now. This may inspire some introspection on the
part of political operatives in both parties who attribute the
Republicans’ present frailty to its orthodoxy on social issues. The GOP
may have fielded some hapless messengers, but their message, on
abortion at least, may be closer to the mainstream than Democrats care
to acknowledge.

I think the numbers, inadequate and simplified though they may be, reflect deeper changes…

That American Spectator piece makes some suggestions.

What is the reason for the change in these polling
numbers?  Saad speculates that it is possible that President Obama,
“through his abortion policies…has pushed the public’s understanding of
what it means to be ‘pro-choice’ slightly to the left, politically.”

“While Democrats may support that, as they generally support
everything Obama is doing as president, it may be driving others in the
opposite direction.”

Whatever the reasons…

…it is bracing to see the majority of Americans opting for the culture of life during these unsettled times.


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