Americans are split down the middle as to whether they are pro-life or pro-abortion, a new poll finds, with more Democrats joining the pro-life camp.

“In a substantial, double-digit shift … Americans are now as likely to identify as pro-life, 47 percent, as pro-choice, 47 percent,” reads a Marist poll conducted for the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic service organization.

“Among Democrats, the gap between pro-life and pro-choice identifiers was cut in half from 55 percent to 27 percent,” according to the poll. “The number of Democrats now identifying as pro-life is 34 percent, up from 20 percent last month, while the number identifying as pro-choice fell from 75 percent to 61 percent.”

The poll also found that nearly 3 out of 4 Americans, 71 percent versus 25 percent, agree that abortion should be “generally illegal during the third trimester.”

The Knights of Columbus published the poll Monday, the same day the Senate was set to take a roll call vote on legislation championed by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., to protect babies who survive abortion by requiring that medical care be provided to them.

Barbara Carvalho, director of The Marist Poll, said she credits the change in opinion to states seeking to allow abortion up to the point of birth.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, signed a bill Jan. 22 legalizing abortion up to birth. Similar legislation proposed in Virginia was voted down Jan. 28.

Those developments “have not gone unnoticed by the general public,” Carvalho said.

“In just one month, there has been a significant increase in the proportion of Americans who see themselves as pro-life and an equally notable decline in those who describe themselves as pro-choice,” she said.

The Marist Poll is produced by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, a survey research center at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Melanie Israel, a research associate for the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, said she agrees that the shift in public opinion is a result of the national focus on, and conversation about, proponents of allowing abortion as late as when the mother is giving birth.

In an email to The Daily Signal, Israel said:

As a number of states propose legalizing abortion up to the moment of birth for any reason, this recent polling confirms how radically out of step these proposals are with the general public. We know that a strong majority of Americans, regardless of whether they identify as pro-life or pro-choice, want to see abortion restricted to, at most, the first trimester.

Among the poll’s findings was that 80 percent of Americans want abortion restricted to the first three months of pregnancy, a number that increased by five points since last month.  

“The current debate about late-term abortion has served as a clarifying moment to demonstrate just how extreme and out of touch the professional pro-abortion movement is with the rest of America,” Israel said.