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Public Opinion on Abortion: What Do People Believe About Abortion?

In July, the Pew Research center released new data about public opinion on abortion. So what do people believe about abortion? Though a vocal minority is aggressively anti-choice, most people support abortion access. And almost all people support abortion to save the life of the woman. Overall, public support for abortion is the highest it has been in the last two decades.

Public Opinion on Abortion: The U.S. is a Pro-Choice Country 

The survey found that just 16% of Americans think abortion should be illegal in all cases. A quarter say that abortion should be legal in all cases. Most Americans, the study found, fall somewhere in the middle. Highlights of the new data set include:

  • 57% of Americans are pro-choice, arguing that abortion should be legal in all or almost all cases.
  • Abortion is a religious issue. Eighty percent of Americans without a religious affiliation think abortion should be legal in all or almost all cases.
  • Catholics are more pro-choice than White Protestants. More than half (53%) of Catholics support abortion rights, compared to just 30% of white Protestants.
  • Black Protestants are more likely than white Protestants to support abortion; 55% think abortion should remain legal.
  • Three-quarters of Democrats (75%) are pro-choice. Republicans are more divided, with 65% saying abortion should be illegal in all or almost all cases.
  • More women (59%) than men (55%) are pro-choice.
  • Sixty-five percent of adults under 30–the group most likely to have an abortion–say abortion should be legal in all or almost all cases. Abortion support is lowest (53%) among those over the age of 60.
  • Support for abortion increases with educational attainment. Sixty-nine percent of college graduates believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

How Long Can I Wait to Get an Abortion?Digging Deeper: What Do People Really Think of Abortion?

Research continues to uncover a significant divide between people’s views on abortion and what they say they would choose for themselves. Just 19% of Americans say abortion is morally acceptable, with 44% claiming it’s immoral.

Support for Roe vs. Wade, the landmark decision that established privacy as a Constitutional right, is higher than support for abortion. Sixty-nine percent of Americans think the ruling should not be fully overturned. So what does this mean? It’s unclear. It may be that Americans recognize a woman’s right to control her body, even when they’re uncomfortable with the choices a woman might make.

Abortion is increasingly a subject of controversy among Democrats. Liberal Democrats almost universally support abortion rights. But some party members have argued that abortion should not be a litmus test for Democratic candidates.

Read more about why Democratic candidates should always support abortion rights here.



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