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President Trump mentioned abortion during the State of the Union. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The recent debate over "late-term abortion," fueled by state measures in New York and Virginia that loosened, or sought to loosen, abortion restrictions toward the end of a woman's pregnancy, has caused "a dramatic shift" in public attitudes toward abortion policy, according to Barbara Carvalho who directed a new Marist poll, commissioned by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization.

By the numbers: The poll found Americans are now as likely to identify as pro-life (47%) as they are pro-choice (47%). Last month, a similar Marist survey found that Americans were more likely to identify as pro-choice than pro-life 55% to 38%, a 17-point gap.

  • The survey also found that 80% of Americans support abortion being limited to the first three months of pregnancy, an increase of 5 percentage points since last month's Marist poll.

Between the lines: Marist has been polling Americans' attitudes on abortion for over a decade, and Carvalho told Axios this is the first time since 2009 that as many or more Americans have identified as pro-life as have identified as pro-choice.

  • But what Carvalho said she found most significant was that Democrats, specifically those under the the age of 45, seem to be leading the shift: This month's poll found 34% of Democrats identify as pro-life vs. 61% pro-choice. Last month, those numbers were 20% and 75%, respectively.
  • Among Americans under 45, 47% identify as pro-life vs. 48% pro-choice. In January, those numbers were 28% and 65%, respectively.

"This has been a measure that has been so stable over time. To see that kind of change was surprising," Carvalho said. "And the increased discussion [of late-term abortion] in the public forum in the past month appears to have made the biggest difference in how people identify on the issue."

Why it matters: Republicans have been on the offensive about this issue since the State of the Union, when Trump seized on the outrage over Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s abortion comments and the passage of a New York law to promote a congressional ban on late-term abortions.

  • In November, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed a new rule that would require insurers send customers separate bills for coverage provided for abortion services.
  • On Friday, the Trump administration issued a new rule barring organizations that provide abortion referrals, like Planned Parenthood, from receiving federal family planning money.
  • Axios health care editor Sam Baker points that by far the most significant thing Trump has done on abortion is replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy with Brett Kavanaugh. "State abortion restrictions will very likely be upheld no matter what public opinion is."

Go deeper:

Methodology: This survey of 1,008 adults was conducted via landline or cell phones, Feb. 12–Feb. 17 by The Marist Poll, sponsored and funded in partnership with The Knights of Columbus.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that, among Americans under 45, 47% identify as pro-life vs. 48% as pro-choice. (An earlier version of this story stated those figures reflected Democrats under 45.)

Go deeper

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.

9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kaine, Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Trump

Sen. Tim Kaine speaks with Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.

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