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Majority of Americans Now ‘Pro-Life,’ Poll Says

For first time in 15 years of Gallup polling, ‘pro-choice’ is overtaken

Image: Anti-abortion activists march in Washington
Pro-life activists participate in the annual “March for Life” event Jan. 22, 2009 in Washington. (Photo credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images file)

May 15, 2009

NEW YORK — The Gallup Poll reported Friday that 51 percent of Americans now call themselves “pro-life” rather than “pro-choice” on the issue of abortion, the first time a majority gave that answer in the 15 years that Gallup has asked the question.

The findings, obtained in an annual survey on values and beliefs conducted May 7-10, marked a significant shift from a year ago. A year ago, 50 percent said they were pro-choice and 44 percent pro-life — in the new poll, 42 percent said they were pro-choice.

The new survey showed that Americans remained deeply divided on the legality of abortion — with 23 percent saying it should be illegal in all circumstances, 22 percent saying it should be legal under any circumstances, and 53 percent saying it should be legal only under certain circumstances.

The findings echoed a recent national survey by the Pew Research Center, which reported a sharp decline since last August in those saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases — from 54 percent to 46 percent.

Taken together, the two polls have elated anti-abortion activists, who had been stung by the November election results that placed President Barack Obama and other abortion-rights supporters in power in Washington. …

N. Rapp / AP
Chart shows abortion poll results

Across religious affiliations

The Gallup poll’s release came just ahead of Obama’s scheduled commencement speech Sunday at the University of Notre Dame, where he also is to receive an honorary degree. Those plans by the Roman Catholic university have sparked a wave of protests by anti-abortion activists, who contend Notre Dame should not honor a such a prominent supporter of abortion rights.

Gallup said its new poll showed an increase in the pro-life position across Christian religious affiliations, including an eight-point gain among Protestants and a seven-point gain among Catholics. It also reported a 10-point shift toward the pro-life category among Republicans but said there was no significant change among Democrats.

In the new poll, men identify as pro-life, 54 percent to 39 percent, while women also tilt pro-life 49 percent to 44 percent. A year ago, Gallup found more women calling themselves pro-choice than pro-life, by 50 percent to 43 percent, while men were more closely divided: 49 percent pro-choice, 46 percent pro-life.

“It is possible that, through his abortion policies, Obama has pushed the public’s understanding of what it means to be ‘pro-choice’ slightly to the left, politically,” according to the Gallup analysis. “While Democrats may support that, as they generally support everything Obama is doing as president, it may be driving others in the opposite direction.”

The Gallup survey was based on telephone interviews with 1,015 adults nationwide. Its margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Full story


Related reports on this site

Tim Tebow: The Heisman Trophy winner who nearly wasn’t born
(Feb. 7, 2010)

Abortion: Human right or human rights violation?
(April 16, 2009; scroll down at link)


In Iraq, an Exodus of Christians
In this photo taken May 13, 2009, Christian believers pray outside a church in south Baghdad’s Dora neighborhood. Iraq has lost more than half the Christians that once called it home, mostly since the war began, and few who fled the chaos have plans to ever return, an examination by The Associated Press has uncovered. (Photo credit: Loay Hameed / AP)

May 14, 2009

BAGHDAD — Iraq has lost more than half the Christians who once called it home, mostly since the war began, and few who fled have plans to return, The Associated Press has learned.

Pope Benedict XVI called attention to their plight during a Mideast visit this week, urging the international community to ensure the survival of “the ancient Christian community of that noble land.”

The number of Arab Christians has plummeted across the Mideast in recent years as increasing numbers seek to move to the West, saying they feel increasingly unwelcome in the Middle East and want a better life abroad.

But the exodus has been particularly stark in Iraq — where sectarian violence since the U.S.-led 2003 invasion has often targeted Christians.

The AP found that hundreds of thousands of Christians have fled.

The situation holds practical implications for Iraq’s future. Christians historically made up a large portion of the country’s middle class, including key jobs as doctors, engineers, intellectuals and civil servants.

The last official Iraqi census in 1987 found 1.4 million Christians in the country. Now, according to the 2008 U.S. State Department report on International Religious Freedom, that number has dropped to between 550,000 and 800,000.

Some estimate the number is even lower: only 400,000, according to the German Catholic relief organization Kirche in Not. The number is echoed privately by many Iraqi Christians.

The vast majority of the exodus has happened since the 2003 invasion, the State Department and other statistics suggest. The State Department says as many as 1.2 million Christians remained into 2003.

Christians first began leaving Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War, during the economic sanctions and repression under Saddam Hussein, who pushed more Islamist policies. But the trickle turned to a flood after Saddam was toppled in 2003 and the violence escalated, said a prominent Iraqi Christian lawmaker, Younadem Kana.

“I hope to leave for any other place in the world,” said Sheeran Surkon, a 27-year-old Iraqi woman who fled to Syria in 2004 after she received death threats, her father disappeared and her beauty salon was blown up. She now awaits resettlement to another country, saying she can’t tolerate the violence and new Muslim conservatism in Iraq. …

Daoud Daoud, 70, a former civil servant in the northern city of Mosul, now spends his time waiting with dozens of others at a Damascus resettlement center, hoping to follow his children to Sweden.

“Iraq as we once knew it is over. For us there is no future there,” he said.

More than 2 million refugees of all religions have fled Iraq since the 2003 invasion. The recent ebb in violence has lured some Muslim refugees to return in small numbers.

But few Christians contemplate going back, according to the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees. …

In a report last year, the head of the UNHCR Iraq support unit noted that Christians are more likely than other fleeing Iraqis to register as refugees in an effort to emigrate to a third country.

“The vast majority of Iraqis still want to return to Iraq when the conditions permit — the notable exception being religious minorities, particularly Christians,” the report said.

Signs of the exodus are stark inside the cavernous St. Joseph’s church in the middle-class Baghdad neighborhood of Karradah. On a recent day, just 100 Christians, mostly women and children, celebrated Mass in an echoing space that could easily hold 1,000.

Incense filled the air as the parishioners sang hymns in Arabic and ancient Syriac — similar to the Aramaic once spoken by Jesus.

“When I came here to my parish in Karrada, we had 2,000 families,” said Monsignor Luis al-Shabi, 70, who started at St. Joseph’s 40 years ago. “But now we only have 1,000 — half.”

The situation is worse in the Baghdad neighborhood of Dora to the south — where 30,000 prewar Christians fled during the six years of war. The now-quiet neighborhood has only a single church and a handful of Christians.

More troubling, when a group of Christian families recently tried to return to homes in Dora, two Christian women were killed, Iraq’s Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly said in an interview after meeting with the pope in nearby Jordan.

Some Christians cite the violence as their reason to flee. Iraqis of all religions and ethnicities have been killed, but Christians had the misfortune to live in some of the worst battlefields, including Dora and the northern city of Mosul, both al-Qaida strongholds.

Execution-style killings late last year targeted Christians in Mosul, as did a string of bombings. In March of last year, the body of Mosul’s Chaldean Archbishop was found in a shallow grave a month after he was kidnapped at gunpoint as he left a Mass.

For now, attacks against Christians in Mosul seem to have ebbed. But one priest, who refused to give his name out of fear, told the AP that “despite the current calm in the city, Christians are still afraid of persecution.”

Scattered violence continues. On Sunday in a village outside Mosul, the body of a 5-year-old Christian child kidnapped a week earlier was found by police, partially chewed by dogs.

The loss of the small power the community had under Saddam has also played a role in the Christian exodus.

Barred from the army, security services or high-level political positions under Saddam, Christians in Iraq often became doctors, engineers, land owners, and above all civil servants, filling the ministries as technocrats who kept the country running.

But ministries are now controlled by powerful figures in the Sunni and Shiite Muslim communities who prefer to distribute jobs to family and close associates, according to several recent Iraqi government anti-corruption probes.

“It’s not a policy of the government of discrimination, but of monopolizing and abusing power for their own pocket and for their own sect,” said Christian lawmaker Kana. …

George Khoshaba Zorbal, a member of a prominent Christian family in Baghdad who once edited the church’s magazine, … now lives on handouts in a crowded Damascus apartment with eight other family members.

“I will never go back. I’m afraid the situation there would not improve even after 10 years,” he said.

Full story


Related report on this site

Christians on the Run in Iraq (Nov. 26, 2008)


Vietnam Vet Becomes Oldest U.S. Soldier to Die in Iraq

Major Steven Hutchison
Soldiers salute the flag at Camp Liberty, Baghdad.

Daily Mail
May 14, 2009

A 60-year-old soldier who served two tours of duty in Vietnam has become the oldest U.S. casualty of the war in Iraq.

Major Steven Hutchisons wife, Kandy, had persuaded him not to reenlist after the September 11 attacks. But when she died of breast cancer three years ago, the former military man, then aged 57, jumped at the chance to return to active duty.

He completed a one-year tour of duty in Afghanistan. But his deployment to Iraq ended in tragedy on Sunday when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle in Basra.

Hutchison, who would have turned 61 on June 5, signed up through a military Retiree Recall program that allows older, experienced warriors to return to action. …

The major had been training Iraqi army and police units but his mission had recently changed and he found himself defending Iraq’s southern borders.

Hutchison, who lived in Scottsdale, Arizona, had previously served two tours in Vietnam from 1968 to 1970 as a member of the famed 101st Airborne Division and won a Bronze Star and a Meritorious Service Medal.

After retiring, he taught psychology at various California universities before going back into the army.

He was part of the 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kan.

The previous oldest soldier to die in Iraq was Staff Sgt. William Chaney, who died of a post-surgical blood clot in 2004 when he was 59.

Full story

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