Issue Analysis

Although polling data is important to show public opinion, public policy should not be based on polls or public opinion. Matters of morality and ethics are always constant despite changing opinions. While policy positions are not determined by opinion polls or election results, both are useful information to have.
Polls reveal national trends and predictors, and the trends on the abortion issue are positive. While the nation remains starkly divided on the issue, more people identify as pro-life every year. Polls also show strong support for laws and regulations that protect the health and safety of women seeking abortion and give them more opportunities to choose life.

National Opinion

At the time of the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, a majority of Americans were sympathetic to a pro-choice view. When the Gallup Poll surveyed Americans in 1995, 56 percent considered themselves pro-choice, while only 33 percent called themselves pro-life.[1] In the last 18 years, a positive trend has emerged with a growing number of pro-lifers and decreasing number of those who hold pro-choice views.

While the nation is still split, for the last few years pro-life has become the majority view in the United States. The most recent 2013 poll shows the overall position on abortion stands at 48 percent in favor of pro-life and 45 percent in favor of pro-choice.[2] The gap has slowly closed over the past two decades. America is becoming increasingly pro-life.

Here is a quick breakdown of the abortion polling numbers in the last five years:
2009 – Pro-Life 51%; Pro-Choice 42%
2010 – Pro-Life 47%; Pro-Choice 45%
2011 – Pro-Life 45%; Pro-Choice 49%
2012 – Pro-Life 50%; Pro-Choice 41%
2013 – Pro-Life 48%; Pro-Choice 45%

As the graph indicates, the percentage of Americans that are pro-life has risen 15 percent and those that are pro-choice have decreased 11 percent. The life movement has clearly made up significant ground and is trending towards becoming a dominant majority in the United States.

In May 2013, Gallup found that:[3]

49 percent find abortion morally wrong.

42 percent believe that abortion is morally acceptable.

In September 1994, Gallup found the following:[4]

33 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal under any circumstances.

13 percent believe abortion should be legal under most circumstances.

38 percent believe abortion should be legal in only few circumstances.

13 percent believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.

In May 2004, Gallup found the following:

24 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal under any circumstances.

13 percent believe abortion should be legal under most circumstances.

42 percent believe abortion should be legal in only a few circumstances.

19 percent believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.

In May 2013, Gallup found the following:

26 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal under any circumstances.

13 percent believe abortion should be legal under most circumstances.

38 percent believe abortion should be legal in only a few circumstances.

20 percent believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.

Regulating Abortion

Support for pro-life views has slowly shaped state laws that regulate the abortion industry. There is widespread support for these common-sense rules that protect the health and safety of women and often lead to more women choosing life for their preborn babies.[5] Here are a few examples of these regulations and the polling data for each:

Law Support Oppose
A law requiring doctors to inform patients about certain possible risks of abortion before performing the procedure.[6] 87% 11%
A law requiring women under 18 to get parental consent for any abortion.[7] 71% 11%
A law requiring women seeking abortions to wait 24 hours before having the procedure.[8] 69% 28%
A law that would make it illegal to perform a specific abortion procedure conducted in the last six months of pregnancy known as a “partial birth abortion,” except in cases necessary to save the life of the mother.[9] 64% 31%
A law prohibiting most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.[10] 55% 30%
A law requiring women seeking an abortion to be shown an ultrasound image of her fetus at least 24 hours before the procedure.[11] 50% 46%

 

Talking Points

The pro-life movement in America continues to grow as more and more people are standing against the dangerous and deadly practices of the abortion industry. While matters of morality and ethics should not be based on public opinion, it is encouraging to see a steady pro-life trend in our country.

Despite the abortion industry’s stance against policies that protect women’s health and safety, polling shows that people on both sides of the abortion debate support common-sense regulation of abortion.

Conclusion

There has been a positive trend in America towards promoting and defending the sanctity of life. While life advocates will continue to be a voice for the defenseless preborn child regardless of public opinion, recent polls prove that when Americans are presented with the facts about abortion, more will choose life.

© January 2014 Center for Arizona Policy, Inc. All rights reserved. This article has been adapted with permission. The original article can be found at: https://azpolicypages.com/life/abortion-opinion-polls/

This publication includes summaries of many complex areas of law and is not specific legal advice to any person. Consult an attorney if you have questions about your specific situation or believe your legal rights have been infringed. This publication is educational in nature and should not be construed as an effort to aid or hinder any legislation.

[1] Abortion, Gallup, Inc., 2013, www.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx (last visited Sept. 25, 2013).

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Lydia Saad, Common State Abortion Restrictions Spark Mixed Review, Gallup, July 25, 2011, www.gallup.com/poll/148631/common-state-abortion-restrictions-spark-mixed-reviews.aspx (last visited Sept. 25, 2013).

[6] Gallup, supra note 1.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Abortion poll on 20 week restriction, Quinnipiac, Aug. 2, 2013,www.quinnipiac.edu/institutes-and-centers/polling-institute/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=1931 (last visited Oct. 2, 2013).

[11] Gallup, supra note 1.

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    Nebraska Family Alliance is a non-profit 501(c)3 research and educational organization committed to strengthening the family. NFA is the only state-based family policy council in Nebraska and is associated with Family Policy Alliance.

    Nebraska Family Alliance is a non-profit 501(c)3 research and educational organization committed to strengthening the family. NFA is the only state-based family policy council in Nebraska and is associated with Family Policy Alliance.

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