Most Americans, including those who identify as “pro-choice,” support limiting abortion to the first trimester of pregnancy, at most, a new survey says.
“It is hardly surprising that after 50 million abortions in this country, an overwhelming majority of the American people want substantial limits,” Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, said Jan. 17.
“This survey shows clearly that the ‘pro-choice’ label can no longer be assumed to mean support for abortion on demand,” Anderson added. “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.”
The survey found that 76 percent of Americans support limiting abortion to no more than the first trimester of pregnancy, with 92 percent of Republicans, 78 percent of independents, and 61 percent of Democrats agreeing. About 60 percent of self-described “pro-choice” respondents supported such limits.
Only 12 percent of Americans said the procedure should be available at any point in a woman’s pregnancy, while 11 percent supported abortion up to six months into pregnancy.
Restrictions on abortion face legal hurdles due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Jan. 22, 1973 ruling in the Roe v. Wade decision, which required permissive abortion laws nationwide.
The data drew on a Dec. 4-7 survey of 1,267 adults in the continental U.S. and another of 1,350 adults Jan. 8-10. The surveys were conducted by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion and sponsored by the Knights of Columbus fraternal Catholic society. They respectively claim a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 and 2.7 points.
About 52 percent of respondents agreed that abortion does more harm to a woman than good in the long run, compared to 29 percent who said it improves a woman’s life. The belief that life begins at conception was professed by 47 percent.
Abortion is “morally wrong” according to about 56 percent of respondents. Moreover, 64 percent said it is wrong for abortions to be sought because the unborn child has genetic conditions such as like Down syndrome.
The study also found that abortion plays a role in elections, with about 40 percent saying the issue is a “major factor” in their choice of candidates. Nearly 76 percent of Republicans identified as “pro-life,” compared to 41 percent of independents and just 25 percent of Democrats.
A majority of respondents said that medical professionals and organizations with moral objections should not be forced to perform abortions or provide insurance coverage for the procedure. About 60 percent opposed using tax dollars to pay for abortion.
Nearly 80 percent of Americans say laws can protect both a mother and her unborn child, a figure that has held steady in Marist survey results since 2009.