Demonstrating relative consistency year-over-year, a new poll from one of the most esteemed polling organizations confirms that a majority of Americans, including a majority who identify themselves as “pro-choice,” think that abortion in the United States should be restricted, even beyond current federal policy and the laws in many states.
The polling, conducted by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion and sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, is now in its 14th year, and continues to demonstrate that, far from extreme positions calling for unlimited abortion on-demand, three quarters of Americans hold a unified view that limitless abortion is not a preferred route for national policy.
“Amidst the harsh political divides in our country, clear bipartisan majorities support abortion restrictions and do not want their tax dollars paying for abortion abroad. Our polling has shown consistently over the past decade that policies that promote abortion on demand paid for by taxpayers are divisive and out of step with American public opinion,” said Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus.
“The American people show consensus and restraint on this issue, and we hope that our elected officials and policy makers will heed this call for unity when there is far too much that divides us in our politics today,” Anderson added.
The poll demonstrated that while a slight majority (53%) of Americans would still identify themselves as “pro-choice,” three out of every four Americans (76%) believe that significant restrictions — even beyond those presently existing — should be placed on abortion in the United States.
“The sense that we should be more restrictive on abortion and not less can be a point of building consensus — even across political and religious divides,” Anderson said.
Not a religious issue
Far from demonstrating a religious divide on the matter, the Marist poll, which queried a random segment of individuals between January 11th and 13th, 2021, included 55% of respondents who identified as not practicing any religion. Among those who identified as not practicing a religion, 64% indicated that they thought abortion access should be significantly limited.
Those self-identifying as Catholic made up 22% of respondents, though only 46% of those individuals said they were practicing their faith.
Republicans, Democrats, and Independents agree
Similarly, agreement on questions of restriction stretched beyond party lines. While larger percentages of Republicans (85%) and Independents (76%) would press for significant restrictions on abortions, even among Democrats, 55% believe abortion should be at least limited to the first three months of pregnancy, if not more restricted.
All told, a large majority (77%) of those who identify as pro-choice and a full 78% of self-identified Democrats said that they believe laws in the United States can be crafted to protect both mothers and their unborn children.
Mexico City Policy and Hyde Amendment have support
Similar consensus across political and religious lines appeared in the poll on the subject of taxpayer funds going to pay for abortions. Among those polled, nearly six in ten Americans (58%) oppose using tax dollars to pay for a woman’s abortion. A majority of independents (65%) and a notable proportion of Democrats (31%) oppose taxpayer funding of abortion. This would seem to demonstrate agreement that measures such as the Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal taxes going to pay for abortion services in the US, should remain in place.
Likewise, a full three-fourths of those polled (77%) either oppose or strongly oppose American tax money going to support abortion in other countries. This too would seem to portend strong support for keeping in place the so-called Mexico City Policy, which limits federal funds from being put to use for abortion support abroad.
This survey of 1,173 adults was conducted January 11th through January 13th, 2021, by The Marist Poll sponsored in partnership with the Knights of Columbus. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the contiguous United States were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed by telephone using live interviewers. Survey questions were available in English or Spanish. The samples were then combined and balanced to reflect the 2017 American Community Survey one-year estimates for age, gender, income, race, and region. Results are statistically significant within ±3.7 percentage points. There were 1,012 registered voters — the results for this subset are statistically significant within ±3.7 percentage points. There are 253 Catholics — the results for this subset are statistically significant within ±7.5 percentage points. The error margin was adjusted for sample weights and increases for cross-tabulations.
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