May 15, 2013

Gallup poll confirms strong abortion opposition

58 percent said abortion should be illegal in all or most cases

By Adelaide Mena

Protestors in front of the US Supreme Court.
A new Gallup poll released on May 10 shows that the majority of Americans oppose legal abortion in all or most circumstances, in keeping with trends over recent years.

Of those polled, 58 percent said abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. Only 26 percent supported legalized abortion under “any circumstances,” while 13 percent said it should be legal in “most circumstances.”
According to Gallup, these results “are similar to what Gallup has found for most of the past decade,” and are in line with “nearly every Gallup measure of this question since 1975.”

Conducted May 2-7, the survey also indicated that the trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell “has not swayed public opinion” on the legality of abortion. Gosnell was recently charged with the deaths of a woman and several live babies who were killed after surviving abortions in his clinic.

Part of the reason for the trial’s lack of impact, Gallup speculated, “could be that relatively few Americans are paying attention to it.” 

Only one-quarter of those surveyed had followed the story very closely or somewhat closely, “well below the 61 percent average level of attention Americans have paid to the more than 200 news stories Gallup has measured since 1991.”
More than 50 percent of respondents said that they have not followed the story at all, and an additional 20 percent said that they had followed it “not too closely,” making “the Gosnell case one of the least followed news stories Gallup has measured.”

Gallup stated that it “is not clear from the data whether Americans' relatively low attention to the Gosnell case reflects a lack of interest in it, or a lack of coverage by the mainstream media.” Recent weeks have seen an outpouring of criticism over a media “blackout” of the trial.

Of those who are following the case, 46 percent said that the media had not devoted enough coverage to the story, while just 27 percent said the media had given the proper amount of attention to it.

Gallup stated that this imbalance may be partly due to the “heavy representation of pro-life respondents among those who were asked the question.” Individuals who identified themselves as “pro-life” were more likely to have followed the case than other Americans.

The research organization also remarked that it is not clear from the data whether or not “views would shift if more Americans become familiar with the case,” though it “will be evident if the eventual verdict sparks a major expansion of news coverage.”

On May 13, three days after the results of the Gallup survey were released, Gosnell was found guilty on three charges of first-degree murder, as well as involuntary manslaughter for the death of a woman who underwent an abortion at his clinic and a host of other charges.

The following day, he accepted a sentence of life in prison, reaching a deal with the district attorney’s office to avoid the death penalty by choosing to forego an appeal.

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