The Corner

Politics & Policy

New Poll Shows Three-Quarters of Americans Favor Abortion Restrictions

A pro-life marcher holds a sign outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., March 2, 2016. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

According to a new Marist poll released this morning, 75 percent of Americans say they would limit abortion to, at most, the first three months of pregnancy. That includes six in ten of those who self-identify as pro-choice, as well as six in ten Democrats.

This poll of Americans’ views on abortion has been conducted in January each year since 2008 by Marist and sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, an effort to track shifts in public opinion on abortion and related policy over time. While more respondents described themselves as pro-choice than pro-life (55 to 38 percent), the data in this year’s poll indicate that even Democrats and pro-choice Americans tend to support significant protections for the unborn.

Only 15 percent of Americans agree with the Democratic party’s position on abortion, that women should be able to obtain an abortion at any point during pregnancy for any reason. Interestingly, less than 30 percent of Democrats and only one-quarter of self-described pro-choice respondents favor abortion with no limitations.

Nearly 60 percent of respondents said they support banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, including 55 percent of those who identified as pro-choice and half of Democrats. More than 60 percent of Americans said they do not support abortion in cases where the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome.

The poll also asked respondents what they think best aligns with a scientific view of the human fetus. Only 35 percent said they think a fetus is “part of the mother’s body,” while more than half of respondents said they see the fetus as a unique life.

According to the survey results, Americans also tend to oppose taxpayer funding for abortion. Three-quarters of respondents said they oppose taxpayer funding of abortion overseas, while just 19 percent said they support such funding. Among independents, 80 percent oppose taxpayer-funded abortion overseas, as do more than half of Democrats and more than 60 percent of pro-choice Americans.

Meanwhile, Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion in the U.S. by a double-digit margin, 54 to 39 percent. More than half of respondents said they believe that medical professionals with moral objections should be allowed to opt out of performing abortion procedures.

For the first time in the history of the poll, Marist asked respondents what they would like to see the Supreme Court do, if and when it reconsiders its decision in Roe v. Wade. Almost two-thirds of respondents said the Court should rule either to allow restrictions as decided by each state (49 percent) or to outlaw abortion entirely (16 percent). Less than one-third of Americans said they’d like the Court to rule to allow unrestricted abortion. This means that more than 60 percent of Americans disagree with the central holdings of Roe, including nearly half of those who call themselves pro-choice and more than 40 percent of Democrats.

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