Gallup: Young adults trending pro-life

by Michael Foust, posted Tuesday, March 16, 2010 (9 years ago)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Young adults ages 18-29 who once were among the top supporters of legalized abortion now are its leading opponents when compared to other age groups, according to a Gallup analysis of survey trends since the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Gallup examined the views on abortion of four age groups and found that in an average of polls from 2005-09, 23 percent of those ages 18-29 believed that abortion should be "illegal in all circumstances," an increase of five points from the period of 1975-79 and nine points from 1990-94. The 23 percent figure tops all age groups, ahead of those ages 65 and older (21 percent) and those ages 30-49 and 50-64 (both of which are at 17 percent).

Opposition to abortion, Gallup said in its analysis, is "growing fastest among young adults." Gallup's Lydia Saad wrote that "18- to 29-year-olds are now roughly tied with seniors as the most likely of all age groups to hold this position on abortion -- although all four groups are fairly close in their views.

"This is a sharp change from the late 1970s, when seniors were substantially more likely than younger age groups to want abortion to be illegal," she wrote.

Gallup's annual survey asks people if they think abortion should be "legal under any circumstances," "legal only under certain circumstances" or "illegal in all circumstances."

Of the four age groups, 18- to 29-year-olds were the only ones to see a decline (although slight) in total support for abortion rights since the mid to late 1970s. From 1975-79, 26 percent of young adults backed abortion "under any circumstances." That climbed to 36 percent from 1990-94 -- which was highest among all age groups -- before plummeting to 24 percent from 2005-09, a percentage that was the second-lowest. That compares to 28 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds, 26 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds, and 16 percent of those ages 65 up who said abortion should be legal under any circumstances.

"In the mid-1970s, when Gallup started polling on the issue, adults aged 18 to 29 and 30 to 49 were the most supportive of legal abortion under any circumstances, and those 65 and older the least, with 50- to 64-year-olds falling in between," Saad wrote, adding later, "the generational distinctions have blurred."

From 2005-09, 51 percent of those ages 18 to 29 said abortion should be "legal only under certain circumstances," a number that trailed all age groups: 65 and olders (59 percent), 50- to 64-year-olds (55 percent), and 30- to 49-year-olds (53 percent).

The analysis was based on Gallup surveys that polled approximately 1,000 people each time. Gallup's complete analysis is available online at http://bit.ly/c1qLQv.


Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.

Download Story