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    Americans' Opinions on Abortion

    1/22/2020

    A new Marist Poll finds that a large majority of Americans – and American voters –prefer to vote for candidates who support abortion restrictions. Most also want the Supreme Court to reinterpret Roe v. Wade to either allow states to decide on abortion restrictions themselves or to ban the procedure entirely.

     

    Read the Full Poll
    Poll NOS and Tables

    Almost 50 years after Roe v. Wade, a new Marist poll shows that a strong majority wants to elect candidates who support substantial abortion restrictions. And most Americans still reject the Supreme Court’s reasoning in the 1973 case.

    “Most Americans want the court to reinterpret Roe either by stopping legalized abortion or by returning the issue to the states,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. The Knights of Columbus is the survey sponsor.

    According to the poll, a notable proportion (41%) of those who identify as pro-choice are more likely to vote for candidates who support restrictions, as are more than nine in 10 who identify as pro-life (96%).

    “The fact that such large numbers of Americans who identify as pro-choice nevertheless support restrictions and the revisiting of Roe v. Wade shows how misleading it is to conflate the term ‘pro-choice’ with support for radically pro-abortion position that calls for unrestricted abortion,” said Anderson.

    Restrictions Preferred

    About two-thirds of Americans (65%) and the same percentage of registered voters say they “are more likely to vote for” candidates who would limit abortion to at most the first three months of pregnancy. This includes about nine in 10 Republicans (88%), more than six in 10 independents (62% percent), and more than four in ten Democrats (44%).

    Pro-Life Intensity

    When it comes to voting for president, intensity is stronger on the pro-life side. By a margin of 10 percentage points (45% to 35%), those who identify as pro-life are more likely to say abortion is a “major factor” in their vote for president than those who identify as pro-choice.

    In addition, more than six in 10 Americans (62%) say that if the Supreme Court revisits Roe v. Wade it should rule to allow states to determine restrictions (46%) or make abortion illegal (16%). Only 33% of Americans say Roe v. Wade should be interpreted to allow for legal abortion any time without restriction. The 62% majority includes about four in 10 of those who identify as Democrats (39%) or as “pro-choice” (40%).

    Consistent with PBS Poll

    The new survey, conducted by The Marist Poll and sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, also finds that seven in 10 Americans would limit abortion to, at most, the first three months of pregnancy. The 70% number is identical to last summer’s NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll. Nearly half (47%) of those who identify as pro-choice in the recent survey also agree that abortion should be limited to – at most – the first three months of pregnancy.

    The January 2020 poll finds that, by more than 10 percentage points (52% to 41%), a majority of Americans believe that women should be required to have an ultrasound prior to having an abortion.

    By a margin of more than five to one (80% to 14%), Americans say that laws can protect both a mother and her unborn child.

    Taxpayer Tab Discouraged

    An overwhelming majority of Americans (75% to 21%) are also against taxpayer funding of abortion overseas. This includes six in 10 of those who identify as pro-choice (61%) and more than nine in 10 of those who identify as pro-life (95%). Six in 10 Americans (60%) also oppose domestic taxpayer funding of abortion. This includes 89% of those who identify as pro-life, and 37% of those who identify as pro-choice. And by 15 percentage points (55% to 40%), a majority of Americans support banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This includes 45% of those who identify as pro-choice and 69% of those who identify as pro-life.

    The new Marist Poll also finds that Americans are more likely to identify as pro-choice (55%) than pro-life (40%), a narrowing of the margin between the two sides by seven percentage points since last summer, when the NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll found a 57% to 35% divide. While those who identify as pro-life unsurprisingly support restrictions on abortion and other positions generally considered to be “pro-life,” the survey also shows the limits of the pro-choice label. Majorities or substantial minorities of those who identify as pro-choice, also support restrictions on abortion and other pro-life positions.

    Methodology

    This survey of 1,237 adults was conducted January 7th through January 12th, 2020 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 are 1,070 registered voters. The results for this subset are statistically significant within ±4.0 percentage points. The error margin was adjusted for sample weights and increases for cross-tabulations.

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