Vox has a piece up, Democrats should start accepting pro-life liberals like me. It has this section:
I am the only Christian on a great many of my friends’ Facebook feeds, and I am also the only Democrat on a great many other Facebook feeds. What I see is a need to stop taunting pro-life people. I believe there are politicians who are afraid of the people uniting on these issues because if we did, we could make radical progressive change.
This is not really true, though the author thinks it is true. I was pretty sure that the “pro-life liberal” category is actually bigger than the author thinks because most pro-life liberals keep their mouths shut. This has a converse. Many conservatives, especially intellectuals, are atheists, but keep their mouths shut in public out of ‘respect’ for the major viewpoint.
But I wanted to quantitatively measure the extend of pro-life sentiment among liberals. So I looked to the General Social Survey. The variable ABANY has large sample sizes. It asks:
Please tell me whether or not you think it should be possible for a pregnant woman to obtain a legal abortion if: g. The woman wants it for any reason?
If you answer “yes” you are clearly pro-choice. If you say “no,” you may be pro-life. This is not the best question for all purposes, but it is good for year to year comparisons, as well as comparing different demographics.
I was particularly curious about changes among non-Hispanic whites stratified by ideology; liberal, moderate, and conservative. What is interesting is that white liberals have become more unapologetically pro-choice as a demographic over the past 16 years, while moderates and conservatives has not changed much (non-white liberals have also become more pro-choice, but less overwhelmingly so). But another thing to note is that on the order of one out of five white liberals still dissents from unqualified support for abortion rights. They may not be pro-life, but these are certainly people who have points of agreement with a pro-life position.
Conversely, one out of five whites who think that the “The Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word” say that they are liberal in 2016. Like the white liberals with reservations about a maximal pro-choice position, they are no doubt silent on the Facebook feeds because they worry about social ostracism or being attacked.