by Bridget Starrs
Results from Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs poll released this week reveal that the majority of Americans are in favor of placing legal restrictions on abortion. According to the poll, 50 percent of Americans believe abortions should only be available “under certain circumstances,” and the majority of this group believe only a “few circumstances” warrant protection. Eighteen percent of respondents said it should be illegal in all circumstances, while 29 percent said abortion should be available under any circumstance.
Looking at the combined numbers, a majority of Americans (53 percent) believe abortion should either be illegal or limited significantly — 10 points greater than the group who favor allowing abortion in all or most cases (43 percent).
The release of this poll follows a national reemergence of the abortion debate within the last several months as President Trump has pushed to end federal funding for organizations that provide abortions, Iowa’s “heartbeat bill” was passed banning most abortions within the state, and Arkansas passed a law banning medication abortion. Americans are more critical of abortion today than in the years directly following Roe v. Wade, and these recent policy changes indicate increasing anti-abortion sentiments. Conducted between May 1-10, the poll yielded similar results to the last several years, but also revealed stronger support for limiting abortion access.
Additionally, the poll showed an equal divide between Americans who identify as pro-life and pro-choice, with 48 percent of Americans falling in each camp. The number of Americans who identify as pro-life has increased significantly since the mid-1990s, when only 40 percent of Americans identified as pro-life and 51 percent identified as pro-choice.
The Gallup poll also asked about the moral acceptability of abortion and other activities, such as using contraceptives, drinking alcohol, and smoking marijuana. Results indicated that abortion is the most closely divided moral issue in America today. Forty-eight percent of Americans believe abortion is not morally acceptable, while 43 percent believe it is acceptable. Since 1975, the majority opinion has been consistently against the moral acceptability of abortion, making it one of the only hotly-contested moral issues where opposition has remained relatively unchanged in recent decades.
Overall, support for limiting access to abortion and a majority morally opposed to abortion both indicate hope for the pro-life movement going forward.
Photo credit: James McNellis via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0