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Majority of Americans want abortion ‘more restricted,’ Gallup finds

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June 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A majority of U.S. citizens continue to favor banning most abortions, according to new polling data from Gallup.

On Monday, Gallup released a new report on its annual survey of American abortion attitudes. While respondents’ self-labeling remains evenly divided, with 48% each identifying as “pro-life” and “pro-choice,” more specific questions reveal that a clear majority wants to ban most abortions.

A combined 53% of Americans favor legal abortion in “few” or “no” circumstances, while just 43% think abortion should be legal in “all” or “most” circumstances.

Further probing of American attitudes found the public "favoring more restrictive rather than less restrictive laws."

These findings have been remarkably durable for more than two decades, as 54% or more have given Gallup the same answer every year from 1995 through 2017.

Other surveys, including CNN/ORC International polls from 2006 to 2016 and Marist Institute polls commissioned every year by the Knights of Columbus, also consistently find majority support for generally prohibiting abortion. Many pro-lifers oppose granting exceptions such as rape and incest, arguing that they abandon and dehumanize babies conceived in difficult circumstances, but many pro-life groups generally accept candidates and policies containing them on strategic grounds.

The 2018 findings for self-identification (48% identify as pro-choice, 48% as pro-life) also represent positive movement for pro-lifers, albeit more narrowly.

“Although there has been some variation in past years, Americans have typically been closely split on whether they consider themselves pro-choice or pro-life, particularly since 2000, when the averages have been 47% pro-choice and 46% pro-life,” the report explains. “During the 1990s -- when Gallup first asked the question -- more Americans personally identified as pro-choice than as pro-life by 51% to 40%, on average.”

Gallup also finds that 48% of Americans consider abortion immoral and just 43% consider it moral. A majority has never declared abortion moral since Gallup began asking the question in 2001. Notably, Marist’s January 2018 survey found a much higher majority, 56%, willing to say abortion is morally wrong.

The numbers serve as a dramatic rebuke to Planned Parenthood executive vice president Dawn Laguens, who claimed last week in a Medium op-ed that the Trump administration’s pro-life agenda appeals only to a “tiny sliver of voters.”

Additionally, polling data confirms Americans consistently side with pro-lifers on the peripheral questions of the abortion debate.

At its 2016 national convention, the Democratic Party adopted a platform opposing all restrictions on abortion and calling for it to be taxpayer funded. But according to Marist, both positions are at least as extreme as pro-life stances routinely labeled extreme in the media.

The number of Americans who believe abortion should be available past the first trimester is 20%, the exact same amount that would limit abortion to saving a mother’s life. Only 12% Americans favor allowing abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, and only 36% of Americans support taxpayer funding of abortion.

Majorities also say abortion “does more harm than good” to a woman’s life in the long run, and that people should not be forced to provide or insure abortions against their will.

The only major question on which the abortion lobby holds a significant polling advantage is Roe v. Wade, which enjoys support ranging from the mid-fifties to high sixties. However, many pro-lifers have noted that many polls falsely suggest Roe only legalized first-trimester abortions, and theorize its support would erode if the public knew how the Supreme Court avoided the question of when life begins, or that many pro-abortion legal experts admit that Roe is constitutionally baseless.

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