American Moviegoers See a Pro-Choice Bias in Hollywood (Poll)

Because of Gracia Still - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Check the Gate Productions

When it comes to the topic of abortion in films, the older the audience, the more likely they are to see pro-choice messages.

Is Hollywood pushing a pro-choice agenda? Americans seem to think so.

Sure, movies like The Cider House Rules, Dirty Dancing and Fast Times at Ridgemont High make a strong case for legalized abortion, but pro-life groups have praised the likes of Arrival, Juno and even the raunchy comedy Knocked Up — all movies where lead female characters choose to give birth rather than abort.

When push comes to shove, though, moviegoers see more pro-choice messages in films than they do pro-life messages, according to a poll made public for the first time Friday.

The scientific poll, conducted by Barna Group, indicates that, when abortion is presented onscreen, 29 percent of Americans think Hollywood is favoring the pro-choice position, while 25 percent say it is favoring the pro-life position. Only 14 percent say no agenda is pushed, while 18 percent don’t recall seeing a movie in which the topic was even discussed.

As the audience gets older, they are far more likely to see pro-choice messages. Thirty-six percent of boomers (ages 52-70), for example, think Hollywood makes movies sympathetic to the pro-choice position, while only 13 percent think it makes more pro-life films.

On the flip side, 36 percent of millennials (ages 18-32) think that Hollywood’s messages are primarily pro-life, while 28 percent think they are mostly pro-choice.

The results also break down according to party, with Democrats seeing more pro-choice messages and Republicans seeing more pro-life messages, which could be attributed to confirmation bias or the simple fact that conservatives and liberals are oftentimes choosing to see different movies, especially when they know that the touchy issue of abortion will be a major plot point.

Like the public at large, registered Independents also see Hollywood largely pushing a pro-choice agenda — 27 percent, compared to 16 percent for pro-life.

A recent Gallup Poll indicates that Americans are almost exactly split on the issue of abortion, with 47 percent calling themselves pro-choice and 46 percent saying they are pro-life.

As for the Barna movie poll, it was commissioned by the filmmakers behind Because of Gracia, an independent title planned for a theatrical release in September. The film stars former American Idol contestant Moriah Peters as a high school student ridiculed for her commitment to save sex until marriage.

Because of Gracia includes a parallel story of abortion — hence the filmmakers were curious to poll American moviegoers on the topic — and also stars John Schneider, who previously made two films with strong pro-life messages: October Baby and Doonby.

Barna is a Christian polling firm. Participants in the Barna study were provided through the Harris Panel.