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Abortion Limits Favored

1/17/2018

New Marist Polls Find that Americans of all Political Persuasions Favor Substantial Abortion Limits

More than three quarters of Americans would limit abortion to — at most — the first three months of pregnancy, according to a new Marist Poll. That number has consistently been about three quarters or more for the past decade.

This year, the survey found that 76 percent of Americans want such limits. Strong majorities of Republicans (92 percent), Independents (78 percent) and Democrats (61 percent) agree, as do a majority of those who identify as pro-choice (60 percent).

While a slim majority of Americans (51 percent) identify as pro-choice, even 60 percent of those who identify as such also support substantial limits.

On specific policy issues, the poll also found that more than 6 in 10 Americans (63 percent) would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, while a similar number oppose using tax dollars to pay for abortion (60 percent).

“It is hardly surprising that after 50 million abortions in this country, an overwhelming majority of the American people want substantial limits,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “This survey shows clearly that the ‘pro-choice’ label can no longer be assumed to mean support for abortion on demand. Nor can abortion be thought of as a partisan issue since majorities of Democrats, Independents and Republicans all agree that it should be substantially restricted. It is high time that our political debates reflected this national consensus and used it as a starting point.”

A majority of Americans continue to consider abortion “morally wrong” (56 percent). That number grows to almost two-thirds (64 percent) for abortions sought in the cases of unborn children with genetic issues like Down syndrome. And by more than 15 percentage points, a majority of Americans say that medical professionals and organizations with moral objections should not be forced to perform or provide insurance coverage for abortion.

In addition, the survey found that almost 8 in 10 Americans (78 percent) say that laws can protect both the mother and her unborn child, a number consistent with those in previous years’ surveys going back to 2009. By more than 20 percentage points, a majority of Americans also say that abortion does a woman more harm than good in the long run (52 percent to 29 percent).

About 4 in 10 Americans say abortion is a “major factor” in how they vote in presidential (42 percent), congressional (45 percent), and local (38 percent) elections.

Begun in 2008, the annual Marist Poll on abortion is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.

The above presents the results of two recent Marist surveys sponsored by The Knights of Columbus. The first survey of 1,267 adults was conducted Dec. 4-7, 2017, and the second survey of 1,350 adults was conducted Jan. 8-10, 2018. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the continental United States were contacted on mobile or landline numbers in English by telephone using live interviewers. The December and January results are statistically significant within ±2.8 percentage points and ±2.7 percentage points, respectively.