By a 24 percent margin, 61-37 percent, Americans take the pro-life view that abortions should either be legal under no circumstances or legal only under a few circumstances. Although Gallup doesn’t specify those “few” circumstances, polling data has consistently shown that, when asked about cases such as rape, incest, or the life of the mother, a majority of Americans want all or almost all abortions made illegal — leaving only life of the mother or rape and incest as the exceptions.
“Americans are rather conservative in their stance on abortion, with 61% now preferring that abortion be legal in only a few circumstances or no circumstances. By contrast, 37% want abortion legal in all or most circumstances,” Gallup analyst Lydia Saad writes. “Over the past two decades, Americans have consistently leaned toward believing abortion should be legal in only a few or no circumstances, although less so in the mid-1990s than since about 1997, when combined support for these has averaged close to 60%.”
The bottom line is that a slim majority of Americans will identify as “pro-choice” (roughly 49% to 45%) but are operationally pro-life. I suspect many of those who take the “pro-choice” view do so as a result of cultural conditioning — “pro-choice” has been made out to be the majority position in the media over the years. Their true world view wins out in the details, though.