June 9, 2011 / 10:21 PM / 8 years ago

Abortion views more subtle than pro-choice, pro-life

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The lines of the abortion debate in the U.S. cultural wars are more subtle than pro-choice and pro-life, mainly because of the millennial generation, a report released on Thursday suggests.

The abortion debate is usually couched in either a “pro-choice” argument for abortion by liberals or “pro-life” against it by conservatives.

But a survey from the Public Religion Research Institute, a research organization that works on religion, values and public life, found that when it comes to individuals, positions often overlap and are even starting to change for 18 to 29 year-olds.

“On the issue of abortion, many Americans hold complex views and fluid identities,” institute research director Daniel Cox said in a statement.

“For some time now, Americans have held a stable tension between two views: majorities both say that abortion is morally wrong and say that it should be legal in all or most cases,” Cox said.

The report found that 70 percent of 3,000 respondents identified themselves as pro-choice while 66 percent identified as pro-life. These numbers add up to more than 100 percent because 37 percent of those surveyed identified with parts of both.

Fifty-two percent of those surveyed said abortion is morally wrong, but 56 percent said that abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

“The binary ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ labels don’t reflect this complexity,” Cox said.”

The 2010 political swing to the right has ushered in dozens of pro-life proposals in state legislatures from bans on late-term abortions to requiring providers to suggest women have sonograms of their fetuses.

The most recent piece of such legislation was a bill that passed the Iowa House of Representatives on Wednesday that would establish the toughest abortion restriction in the country, banning the procedure after 18 weeks.

The future of the culture wars may look differently. The institute said that although 18-29 year-olds are more educated, more liberal and more likely to be religiously unaffiliated, they have not moved far in views of the morality of abortion.

Millennials mirror their parents’ views, with about 6-in-10 saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases, but only 46 percent saying abortion is morally acceptable.

Reporting by Wendell Marsh; Editing by Greg McCune

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