Three in four Americans (75 percent) say abortion should be limited to – at most – the first three months of pregnancy. This includes most of those who identify as Republicans (92 percent), Independents (78 percent) and a majority of Democrats (60 percent). It also includes more than six in 10 (61 percent) who identify as pro-choice.
Almost two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) also say that if the Supreme Court revisits Roe v. Wade then the Court should rule either to allow restrictions as decided by each state (49 percent), or to outlaw abortion (16 percent). Fewer than a third of Americans (30 percent) would want the Court to rule to allow unrestricted abortion.
In addition, the survey found that three-quarters (75 percent) of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion abroad, fewer than two in 10 (19 percent) support such funding. Opposition to this funding includes most Republicans (94 percent) and independents (80 percent) and a majority of Democrats (56 percent).
By a double-digit margin, a majority of all Americans oppose any taxpayer funding of abortion (54 percent to 39 percent). By 20 points (55 percent to 35 percent) Americans also believe medical professionals with moral objections should be allowed to opt out of performing abortions.
More than six in 10 Americans (62 percent) oppose abortions in cases of Down Syndrome, and nearly six in 10 (59 percent) would ban abortion after 20 weeks, except to save the life of the mother.
The survey also found that by more than 20 points, a majority of Americans believe that “scientifically” a fetus is “a unique life” (56 percent), while only about a third (35 percent) believe it is “part of a woman’s body.” A plurality of Americans say that life begins at conception (42 percent), while only about one in 10 say life begins at birth (13 percent). And by a margin of more than eight to one, most Americans also believe that laws can protect both the mother and her unborn child (83 percent to 10 percent).
The strong support for restricting abortion came despite the fact that a majority of Americans identify as pro-choice (55 percent).
The survey of 1,066 adults was conducted January 8 through January 10, 2019 by The Marist Poll, sponsored and funded in partnership with The Knights of Columbus.
“As in past years, this poll shows that the pro-choice label on the abortion issue is simply insufficient,” said Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson. “The majority of Americans – in both parties – support legal restrictions on abortion. Two-thirds of Americans want Roe revisited to allow for state regulation of abortion or to ban it altogether. The majority of the American people deserve to have their opinions heard.”
Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the contiguous United States were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed in English by telephone using live interviewers. Mobile and landline telephone numbers were randomly selected based upon a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the nation from Survey Sampling International. Results are statistically significant within ±3.7 percentage points.
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