This week, the Knights of Columbus released their annual survey on abortion attitudes. By releasing this poll during the week of the March for Life, the Knights of Columbus provide a fine service to the pro-life movement. Numerous surveys simply ask respondents to identify as either “pro-life” or “pro-choice.” However, the Knights’ poll which was conducted by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion asks a much wider range of questions on abortion attitudes. As such, it provides a far more accurate gage of public opinion toward abortion and demonstrates there is broad support for many pro-life legislative goals.
The Knights of Columbus poll, which was conducted in early December, indicates that 44 percent of Americans identify as “pro-life” while 51 percent identify as “pro-choice.” That marks a slight drop in pro-life sentiment from last year’s Knights of Columbus survey. However, the breakdown of abortion attitudes is considerably more interesting.
Fifty-seven percent of respondents believe that abortion should only be legal in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother.
Furthermore, 61 percent support banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and 68 percent oppose having taxpayer dollars spent on abortion.
The Knights convincingly make the case that even on an issue as polarizing and divisive as abortion there exists a surprising amount of consensus. Only 20 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal after the first trimester. Majorities think abortion does more harm than good to women. Majorities also support the right of health-care professionals to opt out of abortion. Most interestingly, even majorities of Americans who identify as “pro-choice” oppose taxpayer funding for abortions and support limits on late-term abortions.
As pro-lifers gather in Washington, D.C., this Friday for the 42nd March for Life we should take heart. Both the overall number of abortions and the abortion rate continues to fall. A higher percentage of women facing unintended pregnancies are carrying their pregnancy to term.
Nearly every year, there is a new record in terms of the number of state-level pro-life laws that are passed. Planned Parenthood is getting both more scrutiny and less public support. Finally, the Knights’ poll is good evidence that our position is popular with Americans and many of our legislative goals enjoy very broad public support.