Half of Americans (50 percent) consider themselves "pro-choice" on abortion compared to 44 percent who identify as "pro-life" — the first time since 2008 that the pro-choice position has a significant lead in Americans' views on abortion.
A majority of women (54 percent) are now pro-choice, compared to 46 percent of men, according to a new Gallup poll.
Since 2009, the trend of Americans being more pro-choice and less pro-life has tended to be roughly divided. In 1995, 56 percent of Americans were pro-choice, compared to 33 percent who were pro-life. In May 2012, the pro-life position led by 50 percent to 41 percent. Now in 2014, Americans clearly side with the pro-choice position, 50 percent to 44 percent.
Gallup however does not specifically define what the pro-choice and pro-life terms mean, but answers to separate questions about the legality of abortions show Americans who favor the pro-choice label generally support broad abortion rights, while pro-life identifiers mostly favor to limit or do away with abortion rights.
Over the last three years, women are more likely than men to be pro-choice; a stark contrast than from 2001 to 2011, when there was virtually no gender gap. In 2011, 50 percent of women and 49 percent of men considered themselves pro-choice. Now, 54 percent of women and 46 percent of men identify as pro-choice.
After dipping to lows among all ages and party groups in 2012, support for the pro-choice label has returned to high levels seen in 2008. Now, 53 percent of those between the ages of 18 to 34 years identify themselves as pro-choice. Fifty-two percent of those between 35 to 55 years and 47 percent of those 55 years and older identify themselves as pro-choice.
The percentage of Republicans and independents identifying themselves as pro-choice has slowly drifted upward over the years, too while Democrats' pro-choice identification has certainly ballooned.
In 2012, 58 percent of Democrats, 41 percent of independents and 22 percent of Republicans identified themselves as pro-choice. Now in 2015, 68 percent of Democrats, 50 percent of independents and 31 percent of Republicans identify themselves as pro-choice.
"[T]he broader liberal shift in Americans' ideology of late could mean the recent pro-choice expansion has some staying power," according to Gallup.
The random telephone-based poll of roughly 1,000 U.S. adults was conducted May 6-10 with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.