In America, where the topic of abortion fuels heated binary political battles in states and the federal government alike, some Americans are neither pro-choice nor pro-life, a poll conducted by Vox/PerryUndem shows. Of the more than 1,000 adults surveyed over the course of about one week in March, 39 percent didn't identify themselves as being decisively pro-life or pro-choice. In fact, 21 percent said neither, and 18 percent said both.
Less than one-third of respondents came down hard on either side, with 32 percent labeling themselves as pro-choice and 26 percent labeling themselves as pro-life. "About four in 10 Americans are eschewing the labels that we typically see as defining the abortion policy debate," Sarah Kliff, a reporter at Vox, wrote in an article about the poll's findings. "Abortion usually gets framed as a two-sided debate: Americans support abortion rights, or they don't."
As states continue to pass more restrictions on abortion -- the poll pointed out that 205 state laws have been passed in the last three years that make getting abortion care more difficult for women -- 60 percent of respondents said they felt that the effort to limit access to abortion care was headed in the wrong direction, while 34 percent said it was headed in the right direction.
On Tuesday, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas signed into law a bill that bans women from having a specific abortion procedure in their second trimesters, while Republican governors in Arizona and Arkansas recently signed into law bills requiring doctors to tell women that drug-induced abortions can be reversed in mid-procedure.
The poll also found that respondents' support of abortion rights changed depending on how a question was worded. If it was couched in terms of women having "a legal right to safe and accessible abortion in almost all cases," more people supported abortion rights. If the question was simply, "Abortion should be legal in almost all cases," support dropped by 9 percentage points.
"We've framed our abortion debate all wrong," Kliff concluded, noting that rather than being black and white, Americans' views on abortion were many shades of gray that were not being considered in policy debates. "By ignoring that gray space, we miss something important: There are abortion policies that a majority of Americans could agree on."
The poll was conducted by the research and communications firm PerryUndem among 1,067 adults throughout the U.S., March 4-12. The margin of error was 4.1 percent.