A new Gallup poll has found that a majority of Americans — 55% — now identify as “pro-choice” in the abortion rights debate, the highest level in 27 years.
Gallup found in 1995 that 56% of Americans considered themselves pro-choice — supporting the right to have an abortion. After that and until the latest poll, the percentage fluctuated from 45% to 50%.
Lydia Saad, Gallup’s director for U.S. social research, attributed the rise in support for abortion rights to the fears that Roe v. Wade may be gutted in the wake of the leak of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion that argued against the 50-year-old ruling that established the right.
“The prospect of the Supreme Court overturning the case that established women’s right to seek an abortion has clearly jolted a segment of Americans into identifying with the pro-choice side of the issue and expressing more unequivocal support for abortion being legal,” Saad wrote in the Gallup report.
The increase was driven by Democrats. Their identification as pro-choice rose from 70% to 88%, according to the poll.
Identification as “pro-choice” rather than “pro-life” also increased by 9 percentage points to 61% among women, by 12 points to 67% among adults ages 18 to 34, and by 9 points to 58% among adults ages 35 to 54.
There was no significant change among Republicans, independents, men or older Americans, Gallup found.
Among other findings, 39% of Americans identified as pro-life, the lowest percentage since 1996. And support for abortion being broadly legal increased 7 percentage points over the past year among political independents — but not among Republicans or Americans older than 55, according to the poll.
Gallup conducted its telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,007 adults over three weeks, beginning May 2, the day Politico published Alito’s draft opinion. A final Supreme Court decision could be issued within weeks.
Other recent polls have also found majority support for a right to abortion, though numbers vary.
A Wall Street Journal poll found that more than two-thirds of Americans want to uphold Roe v. Wade, and most favor access to legal abortion for any reason. The Journal called the results a “four-decade evolution” in the nation’s viewpoint on abortion rights.
The poll, also taken after the leak of Alito’s draft opinion, was conducted with the nonpartisan National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. It was released Thursday.
The survey found that 68% of those polled said they wouldn’t like to see the court completely overturn Roe.
The majority of respondents, 57%, said someone should be able to obtain a legal abortion for any reason — the highest percentage since NORC began asking the question every few years beginning in 1977, the Journal noted.
In all the polls, support for abortion declined as the length of the pregnancy increased.
Check out the full Gallup poll report here.