Washington D.C., Jan 23, 2017 / 06:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Ahead of the 44th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. a survey shows a “consensus” favoring a 20-week abortion ban, which President Trump has pledged to sign into law if passed by Congress.
“There is a consensus in America in favor of significant abortion restrictions, and this common ground exists across party lines, and even among significant numbers of those who are pro-choice,” Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson stated Jan. 23. “This poll shows that large percentages of Americans, on both sides of the aisle, are united in their opposition to the status quo as it relates to abortion on demand. This is heartening and can help start a new national conversation on abortion.”
A new Marist poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus surveyed over 2,700 adults on abortion restrictions like bans on taxpayer funding of abortions and laws restricting elective abortion to the first trimester of pregnancy. The poll was released days ahead of Friday’s March for Life, the 44th annual pro-life march in Washington, D.C. held on or around Jan. 22 since 1974. It commemorates the date the Supreme Court decided a woman’s right to an abortion in the Roe v. Wade decision on Jan. 22, 1973.
Almost six in ten Americans (59 percent) supported a ban on abortions performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with an exception of when the life of the mother is at stake, according to the poll. “Pain-capable” legislation enacting a similar ban has been passed by the U.S. House and in 19 states. Medical research has shown that unborn babies can feel pain at around 20 weeks of pregnancy.
There was “strong support across the board” for this ban in the poll, Andrew Walther, vice president of communications and strategic planning for the Knights of Columbus, said in a conference call with reporters, including among “a majority of those who identify as pro-choice.” 63 percent of African-Americans and 58 percent of Latinos favored such a ban, poll numbers showed, and even 49 percent of Democrats supported it. 59 percent of Independents favored the ban.
Almost three-fourths of respondents favored restrictions on abortion either to the first trimester of pregnancy (22 percent), in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother (30 percent), only to save the life of the mother (12 percent), or never under any circumstances (10 percent). Over one in three thought restrictions limiting abortion to the first trimester except to save the life of the mother to be an “immediate” priority.
There was a “groundswell of support across a number” of demographics for abortion restrictions, Walther said, including among many African-Americans, Latinos, and even a significant portion of political Democrats. The vast majority of African-Americans (79 percent), Latinos (79 percent), and political Independents (72 percent) wanted “significant restrictions” on abortion like limits to the first trimester, or bans except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at stake, the poll revealed.
Since 2008, poll respondents favoring one or all these restrictions has totaled “consistently about three-quarters or better,” Walther explained. Also, a majority of Americans do describe themselves as “pro-choice,” the poll revealed, with 52 percent saying they were “pro-choice.” 42 percent of respondents said they were “pro-life.”
However, the survey shows that “when we go beyond those labels” of “pro-life” and “pro-choice” that Americans identify with and start “asking questions about what people actually feel in terms of their positions,” Barbara Carvalho, director of the Marist Poll explained on the conference call, “there’s actually a consensus that people really do want restrictions” on abortion.
“A lot of people” who identify as “pro-choice” may not favor legal abortion in all scenarios, Walther explained, and may actually want significant restrictions on when it can take place. And, when respondents were asked about their “intensity” for their pro-life or pro-choice position, pro-lifers were “about 10 points more intense in that support” than pro-choicers, Walther said, revealing “stronger intensity on the pro-life side.” While the majority of Millennials said they were “pro-choice,” a majority of them wanted abortion limited either to the first trimester (23 percent) or to cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother (29 percent). Almost six in ten Millennials supported a 20-week abortion ban, and almost just as many non-practicing Catholics (61 percent) as practicing Catholics (62 percent) supported the ban.
Almost six in ten Americans expressed “moral objections” to abortion, including 59 percent of political Independents, 63 percent of African-Americans, 62 percent of Latinos, and even 40 percent of Democrats. Half of Millennials said abortion was “morally wrong.” Half of respondents said abortion “does more harm than good” to a woman’s life in the long-term, including more Millennials (44 percent) who said it does than who said it improves a woman’s life (40 percent).
Other restrictions, like on taxpayer funding of abortion, were met with widespread support in the poll. 61 percent of respondents — including 87 percent of Trump supporters and 39 percent of Clinton supporters — opposed taxpayer funding of abortions in the U.S., which is currently policy under the Hyde Amendment. The No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act, expected to be voted on by the House on Tuesday, would solidify this provision in law, as it currently must be passed every year by Congress as a budget rider. Regarding the direct taxpayer funding of abortions in foreign countries — prohibited in U.S. foreign assistance by the Helms Amendment — 83 percent of respondents opposed such funding.
President Trump signed an executive order on Monday reinstating the Mexico City policy, which prohibits U.S. assistance to international non-governmental organizations that perform or “promote” abortions. Doctors and medical providers who conscientiously refuse to perform or participate in abortions should be allowed to do so, 6 in 10 respondents said, including 45 percent of pro-choice respondents and 62 percent of Independents.
Other recent polls on abortion have shown a majority of Americans in favor of some restrictions, though to what extent they support these restrictions is not always clear. Earlier in January, a Quinnipiac poll showed 34 percent of Americans saying abortion should be “legal in most cases,” while 32 percent said it should be illegal in all or most cases. However, statistics show that the vast majority of abortions are performed in the first trimester of pregnancy.
In that same poll, Americans were equally divided on a 20-week abortion ban in their home state, with 46 percent both supporting and opposing such a ban. Back in October, a Pew Research poll showed 36 percent of Americans saying abortion should be legal in most cases, with 22 percent saying it should be legal in all cases. 23 percent said it should be illegal in most cases, and 14 percent said it should be illegal in all cases.
The Marist Poll numbers also broke down the views of practicing and non-practicing Catholics on the issue. Six in ten practicing Catholics said they were pro-life while 37 percent said they were pro-choice. However, among non-practicing Catholics those numbers switched, with 64 percent identifying as pro-choice and 31 percent as pro-life. 84 percent of practicing Catholics said abortion should be limited to the first trimester of pregnancy, allowed only in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother, or not allowed at all. 71 percent of non-practicing Catholics favored some or all of those restrictions.