Fifty-four percent of respondents said they prefer the pro-choice label, while 38 percent opted for pro-life, according to the survey data. A further 8 percent were unsure.
The question was asked as part of a first-of-its-kind Rare poll that surveyed only respondents under 40. The questions were tailored to chart trends in the opinions of younger voters.
There wasn’t much of a gender divide over the issue of abortion. Fifty-five percent of women said they were pro-choice while 54 percent of men took the label. Hispanics were also favorable toward abortion access, with 55 percent of Latinos calling themselves pro-choice.
On the other side, Evangelical Christians, Roman Catholics, and Republicans were all majority pro-life. African-Americans were divided, with 46 percent pro-life and 44 percent pro-choice.
Public opinion over the issue of abortion has long been a pendulum. Americans were generally supportive during the 1980s. As the pro-life movement became more organized and vocal, momentum shifted in the pro-life direction during the early 1990s.
Since then, abortion opinion has evened out, although some pro-lifers have claimed that another swing back to the pro-life side is coming. At least among young voters, this doesn’t appear to be true.
“Labels aside, the majority of Americans value this basic freedom and ultimately we trust women to decide what’s best for them,” Samatha Gordon, a spokesperson for the National Abortion Rights Action League, told Rare.
But Dustin Siggins of the pro-life website LifeSiteNews.com claims there is support for abortion restrictions among younger people, even if they don’t identify as “pro-life.”
“Consistent polling shows that young Americans are more pro-life than the previous generation, even if it is true that they don’t identify with the term,” he told Rare. “For example, they support more restrictions, including parental notification for minors and bans on late-term abortions.”
Due to the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, most abortion policy is off limits to voters. States can regulate abortions after what’s called viability (generally regarded as 20 weeks) and pass other safety restrictions, but they don’t have a say in the legality of pre-viability abortion.
However the abortion debate did surface with the Obamacare contraception mandate, which covers birth control measures that some regard as inducing abortions. The Supreme Court recently ruled that companies can’t be mandated to provide these so-called abortifacients.
The Rare survey was conducted by nonpartisanGravis Marketing between August 11 and August 18. A total of 556 respondents under age 40 were interviewed over the phone and using Internet panels. Overall, the poll has a margin of error of 5 percent.
Matt Naham contributed to the report.