March 14, 2011 ( – When faced with a black-and-white choice, the majority of Americans favor keeping abortion legal, but otherwise largely support specific laws limiting the procedure, according to two polls released this month.

A report released by the Pew Research Center on March 3 of 1,504 adults found a majority of Americans supporting abortion when asked to choose between the procedure being “legal in all/most cases” and “illegal in all/most cases.” 

Fifty-four percent said they supported legal abortion, up four points since last year and eight points in 2009; 42 were opposed, down two points from the previous two years, when the number remained steady at 44 percent. Four percent were unsure.

The report found independents trending more in favor of abortion as well, with 58 percent saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared to 47 percent of those surveyed two years ago.

Other data suggests that Americans’ support for legalized abortion in general doesn’t imply support for the procedure to be frequent or easily accessible.

A Rasmussen Reports survey released Thursday asked 1,000 American adults their opinions on various types of pro-life legislation, and whether they thought such legislation would reduce abortions.

Sixty-five percent of respondents said they would support a law such as one passed in South Dakota recently requiring women seeking abortion to wait three days before the procedure and to receive counseling on other options, while only 24 percent opposed it. 

A plurality of adults in the Rasmussen survey, 43 percent, supported a bill approved by the Texas legislature that would require abortion-bound women to see an ultrasound and hear the heartbeat of their baby before having an abortion, while 38 opposed. The requirements of the Texas measure can be waived if a woman refuses the information. 

Regarding both the waiting period and ultrasound bills, the majority of respondents, 65 percent and 62 percent respectively, were convinced the measures would reduce abortion.


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