Understanding America's Shift on Abortion

The folks at Gallup have announced that, for the first time, more Americans are pro-life than pro-choice. There are all kinds of ways to misunderstand what that means

Illustration by Gerard Dubois for TIME

The abortion debate is a shape-shifter, its contours twisted by politics, culture, timing and the very language pollsters use when they ask people how they feel. So when the folks at Gallup announced that, for the first time, more Americans are pro-life than pro-choice, there were all kinds of ways to misunderstand what that means.

First and foremost are the labels, which cloud the issue by oversimplifying it — that's why the advocates picked them. Most people are neither pro-choice nor pro-life, but both; we cherish life, we value choice, and we...

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