The American Public Wants Abortion Limits
Secular Pro-Life supporter Benjamin K. asks: “I’m having some pushback on my public claims that the majority of pro-choice people support at least some restrictions. Am I misinterpreting polls that say the majority of Americans support at least some restrictions?”
Great question, Ben! You are correct, and the polling is very consistent. Limitless abortion has always been a minority view, even among people who identify as pro-choice.
Gallup has been polling this question for many years. Although I am not a huge fan of its “legal under any circumstances, legal under most circumstances, legal in only a few circumstances, and illegal in all circumstances” framing (because I suspect that what people believe “most circumstances” to be varies depending on the person’s media consumption), it does have the virtue of giving us decades of data. “Legal under any circumstances” typically hovers between 25% and 35%.
When Gallup asks about trimesters, the overwhelming majority of Americans — typically upwards of 80% — oppose abortion in the third trimester. Mathematically, that has to include a healthy number of pro-choice Americans — including, bizarrely, some who also answered that abortion should be legal under any circumstances! (Don’t count on survey-takers being consistent.) A majority of respondents also say that abortion should be illegal in the second trimester. The Associated Press found similar results. Sadly, we have a long way to go in humanizing first-trimester babies; that’s where they have us beat, and the propaganda is ferocious.
Of course, gestational age is only one aspect of abortion policy. Parental involvement laws, which require notice to parents when their underage daughters seek abortions, have strong support. Earlier this year, Rasmussen reported that 64% of Americans back parental involvement, with only 25% in opposition and the rest not sure. Taxpayer funding of abortion remains highly unpopular; the Hyde Amendment, which restricts such funding, has saved over 2.4 million lives since its enactment in 1976.
While the reversal of Roe v. Wade has energized abortion supporters, it has not converted significant numbers of Americans into anything-goes extremists. As time passes and the sky continues not to fall, the pro-life position has the opportunity to regain ground and advance the right to life for all human beings.
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