Survey: Among Black, Hispanic Americans, Complexity Reigns on Abortion Issue
A large majority Americans identify as both ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’
Dan Merica CNN
July 27, 2012WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNN) -- A large majority of black and Hispanic Americans identify as both "pro-life" and "pro-choice" when it comes to abortion, according to a survey released Thursday. The poll finds that both minority groups are more likely than Americans in general to embrace or to reject both labels.
Large majorities of African-Americans identify both as "pro-life" (71%) and "pro-choice" (75%), according to a Public Religion Research Institute survey released Thursday. Hispanic Americans harbor similarly complex views on abortion, with 77% identifying as "pro-life" and 72% calling themselves as "pro-choice."
The survey found that 52% of black Americans and 47% of Hispanic Americans acknowledge that they embrace or reject both labels, proportions that are higher than those for Americans overall. Thirty seven percent of all Americans embrace both labels or neither label.
The numbers show that most people see the pro-life and pro-choice identifiers through their own unique prisms, says Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute.
"Most people live outside the culture war and policy wonk bubble," Jones says. "I think for those folks who make our living following these things, these words are brands, they are movement brands, but in the general public, these words function in a much broader way."
Overall, a majority of black Americans -- 67 % - believe abortion should be legal in most cases, while a slight majority of Hispanic Americans -- 51% -- believe abortion should be illegal in most cases.
While views on abortion are often connected to religion, the survey finds that clergy speech "appears to have no independent effect on black or Hispanic congregants' attitudes toward the legality of abortion."
A strong majority of Hispanic - 84% - and black Americans - 68% - who hear about the abortion issue in church responded that their clergy say abortion is "morally wrong." But large majorities of black and Hispanic Americans "believe that it is possible to disagree with their religion's teachings on abortion and still be considered a person of good standing in their faith," the survey found.
"People are kind of putting it together for themselves on many issues, and that is what the survey says," Jones said of religions' influence on views of abortion. "Institutional religion or official church teachings, those two things are much less important."