As the abortion and gay marriage debates simmer beneath the national brawl over spending, a new poll shows Americans are becoming much less conservative when it comes to social issues.

Pew Research Center poll released Thursday showed growing support for legal abortion, gay marriage and marijuana legalization.

The shifting attitudes on the latter topic were particularly dramatic. Americans opposed legalizing marijuana by an 81-16 split two decades ago. The latest poll showed just 50 percent now oppose the change, while 45 percent support legalizing marijuana.

On the abortion question, the survey showed Americans trending toward supporting abortion rights after a brief drift in the opposite direction. A 54 percent majority favored legal abortion, while 42 percent opposed it.

The poll also showed more Americans coming around to the idea of same-sex marriage. Though Americans were opposed to gay marriage by nearly 2-1 a decade ago, the latest poll showed 45 percent in support of it, with 46 percent in opposition.

The survey showed the public split just about even over the issue of gun control, with as many people supporting gun rights as gun regulation.

The survey was conducted Feb. 22 through March 1 among 1,504 adults. It had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.