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Here’s what a decade of polling reveals about Americans’ views on abortion

A new Marist Poll, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, shows that more than three quarters of Americans would support significant limits to legal abortion. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

More than three quarters (76 percent) of Americans would support significant limits to legal abortion, according to a new Marist Poll sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic charitable organization.

What did the poll find?

The poll found that a slim majority — 51 percent — said they are pro-choice, while 44 percent said they are pro-life. Another 4 percent said they are unsure.

However, a majority of Americans — 56 percent — said they consider abortion “morally wrong,” regardless of whether or not they think it should be legal. That number grows to 64 percent for abortions sought based on a fetal diagnosis of a condition such as Down syndrome.

Forty-seven percent of Americans said life begins at conception.

A quarter of Democrats said they are pro-life, as did slightly over three quarters of Republicans.

Fifty-two percent said undergoing an abortion does more harm than good to a woman’s life in the long run.

The poll found that 76 percent of Americans support at least one of the following restrictions on abortion:

  • Limiting abortion only to the first three months of pregnancy
  • Limiting abortion to cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother
  • Limiting abortion to only save the life of the mother
  • Prohibiting abortion under any circumstance

Of those who identified themselves as pro-choice, 41 percent said they would support limiting abortion only to the first three months of pregnancy.

Just 12 percent of Americans said abortion should be available throughout an entire pregnancy.

Sixty-three percent said they would support a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy with an exception to save the life of the mother, an increase from 59 percent last year. Sixty percent said they oppose the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortion procedures.

The poll also found that 78 percent of Americans say laws can protect both the health and well-being of a woman and the life of an unborn child without choosing one over the other.

What does it mean?

This year marks the 10th annual Marist Poll, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, regarding Americans’ views on abortion. The organization said this year’s results are consistent with those of the past decade.

“It is hardly surprising that after 50 million abortions in this country, an overwhelming majority of the American people want substantial limits,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in a statement. “This survey shows clearly that the ‘pro-choice’ label can no longer be assumed to mean support for abortion on demand. Nor can abortion be thought of as a partisan issue since majorities of Democrats, Independents and Republicans all agree that it should be substantially restricted. It is high time that our political debates reflected this national consensus and used it as a starting point.”

The results represent two recent Marist surveys sponsored by The Knights of Columbus. The first survey of 1,267 adults was conducted Dec. 4-7, and the second survey of 1,350 adults was conducted Jan. 8-10.

One last thing…
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