An astounding percentage of Americans suddenly have shifted from a pro-choice to a pro-life position, according to a February Marist poll in conjunction with the Knights of Columbus, the world's largest Catholic service organization.
Americans now are as likely to say they're pro-life as pro-choice — both at 47 percent, the poll stated — which is a far cry from last month's numbers in a similar Marist Poll that found Americans are far more likely to identify as pro-choice (55 percent) than pro-life (38 percent), the Knights of Columbus said — a difference of 17 percentage points.
Who led the shift?
Leading the way were Democrats and those under 45 years of age who now say they're pro-life, the organization said. The dramatic shift occurred in the wake of several states' efforts to legalize abortion up until birth, the Knights of Columbus added.
More from the organization:
Among Democrats, the gap between pro-life and pro-choice identifiers was cut in half from 55 percent to 27 percent. The number of Democrats now identifying as pro-life is 34 percent, up from 20 percent last month, while the number identifying as pro-choice fell from 75 percent to 61 percent. Younger Americans also moved dramatically, now dividing 47 percent pro-life to 48 percent pro-choice. One month ago, the gap was almost 40 percentage points with only 28 percent identifying as pro-life and 65 percent identifying as pro-choice.
"The recent legal changes to late-term abortion and the debate which followed have not gone unnoticed by the general public," Barbara Carvalho, director of the Marist Poll, told the Knights of Columbus. "In just one month, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of Americans who see themselves as pro-life and an equally notable decline in those who describe themselves as pro-choice."
This is the first time since 2009 that as many or more Americans say they're pro-life as say they're as pro-choice, the organization noted, adding that two-thirds of Republicans — 67 percent — identify as pro-life and independents are split nearly down the middle, with 46 percent saying they're pro-life and 48 percent siding with the pro-choice position.
The new poll also found overwhelming opposition to late-term abortions by nearly a 3-to-1 margin, the Knights of Columbus said, with 71 percent against them and 25 percent not opposed.
More from the organization:
By an even wider margin (71 percent to 18 percent), Americans strongly oppose late-term abortion after 20 weeks. This 71 percent includes two-thirds (66 percent) who say abortion should be banned after 20 weeks of pregnancy except to save the life of the mother, and an additional five percent think abortion should be outlawed completely. Only 18 percent think abortion should be allowed at any time up until birth. Those opposing abortion after 20 weeks, or overall, include: 59 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of independents and 82 percent of Republicans.
In addition, the poll found that 80 percent of Americans would like abortion limited to – at most – the first three months of pregnancy -- an increase of five points since just last month. This includes 65 percent of those who identified as pro-choice, as well as strong majorities of Democrats (64 percent), Republicans (92 percent) and independents (83 percent).
The new survey of 1,008 Americans over the age of 18 was conducted Feb. 12-17, the poll stated, adding that the margin of error is +/-3.5 percentage points.