Public opinion analyst: Abortion views have remained steady because of 'ambivalence'

Public opinion analyst Karlyn Bowman said on Thursday that the public's views on abortion have remained steady for an extended period of time because so many have mixed feelings on the issue. 

“I think that ... Americans in their own hearts believe that it should be a personal choice, and believe it’s life, and when you think about that, that’s a deeply contradictory idea," Bowman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told Hill.TV's Joe Concha on "What America's Thinking." 

“I think Americans have always had some ambivalence about the issue, and that’s why you see the numbers being remarkably steady over decades," she continued. 

Pew Research Center data shows that Americans' view on the matter generally has not shifted much since the mid-1990s.

Sixty percent of Americans said in 1995 that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 57 percent said the same in 2017. 

Morning Consult senior reporter Joanna Piacenza said that public views on the issue could grow still murkier, with more young people saying abortion is a complicated topic. 

"Although the general population is familiar with these [pro-life or pro-choice] labels and probably takes one of them to heart, and identifies as such, young people are in many ways moving away from them or saying that, you know, it is a complicated, nuanced topic, and they don't feel comfortable falling into one category or another," she said. 

— Julia Manchester