Gallup Poll: 55% of Americans Want All or Most Abortions Made Illegal

National   Steven Ertelt   May 29, 2015   |   9:42AM    Washington, DC

A new Gallup poll finds a majority of Americans oppose all or most abortions even though some Americans who technically take a pro-life position opposing abortion wrongly think they are “pro-choice” on abortion.

The Gallup survey found that half of Americans identify themselves as “pro-choice” on abortion, surpassing the 44% who identify as “pro-life.” Gallup says “This is the first time since 2008 that the pro-choice position has had a statistically significant lead in Americans’ abortion views.”

“For most of the past five years, Americans have been fairly evenly divided in their association with the two abortion labels. The only exception between 2010 and 2014 was in May 2012, when the pro-life position led by 50% to 41%,” the polling firm notes. “Prior to 2009, the pro-choice side almost always predominated, including in the mid-1990s by a substantial margin. While support for the pro-choice position has yet to return to the 53% to 56% level seen at the time, the trend has been moving in that direction since the 2012 reading.”

But do those labels on abortion actually mean Americans are pro-abortion? It turns out the answer is no, as Gallup confirms a majority of Americans oppose all or almost all abortions. When asked when abortion should be legal, 55 percent of Americans oppose all abortions or say abortion should only be legal in a “few circumstances,” typically defined as cases such as rape, incest or if the life of the mother is in danger. Since those cases constitute, at most, 1-2 percent of all abortion cases, Gallup’s numbers confirm 55 percent of Americans oppose 98 percent or more of the 1.1 million abortions that take place annually in the United States.

The poll makes it clear that even 27 percent of those who call themselves “pro-choice” actually take a pro-life position wanting all abortions illegal or abortion legal in only the very rarest cases. Just 9 percent of people who support unlimited abortion wrongly call themselves pro-life.

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Today’s poll is consistent with other Gallup surveys, such as its 2013 poll showing 58% of Americans opposed all or most abortions.

Other polling data confirms that, even when a majority of Americans call themselves “pro-choice” on abortion, they strongly support limits on abortions.

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The Knights of Columbus poll found that 47 percent of Americans identify as “pro-life,” which is consistent with the results of recent surveys conducted by Gallup and other opinion research groups. But the poll also found that substantial majorities think that 1) the abortion rate is too high; 2) abortion is morally wrong; and 3) abortion does more harm than good. And when asked about specifics, 59 percent of all respondents said abortion should be allowed only in cases of rape or incest, in cases where it’s necessary to save the life of the mother, or never at all,” political scientist Michael New notes.

A January poll, also by Gallup, confirms Americans don’t support the current policy of unlimited abortions for any reason up to birth in most states. The poll shows that, dating back to 2001, the fewest number of Americans are satisfied with America’s abortion laws which, currently, allow for virtually unlimited abortions in most states.

“In 2015, 34% of Americans say they are satisfied with current U.S. abortion policies. This is the lowest percentage since Gallup first asked the question in 2001,” Gallup noted.

A 2014 CNN poll also confirmed that a majority of Americans want all or most all abortions made illegal.

According to the CNN survey, 20% say abortion should always be illegal and 38% say most abortions should be illegal — making it so 58 percent of Americans oppose all or virtually all abortions. Just 27% of Americans side with Planned Parenthood and President Barack Obama in saying abortions should always be legal. Another 13 percent say abortion should be legal in most cases, making it so only 40 percent of Americans generally favor legalized abortion in most instances.

As CNN notes, “Most Americans have never favored using public funds for abortions for women who cannot afford them. According to the survey, 56% remain opposed, with only 39% favoring public funding for abortions.”

A 2011 CNN national poll of Americans showed 62% of Americans want all or most abortions made illegal.  In April 2009, CNN showed Americans wanted to prohibit most or all abortions by a 64-34 percentage point margin. The margin was 63-36% in November 2008, 61%-37% in June 2008, 62-36% in October 2007, and 64-34 percent in September 2006.

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