CBS News Poll: 55 Percent of Americans Pro-Life, Oppose Most Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 16, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

CBS News Poll: 55 Percent of Americans Pro-Life, Oppose Most Abortions Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 16, 2006

New York, NY ( — A new poll conducted by CBS News finds a majority of Americans oppose virtually all abortions in the United States. Those polled said they want either no abortions to occur or for abortion to be limited to very rare circumstances.

Some 55 percent of Americans took a pro-life position on abortion. Of those, 33 percent said abortions should be "permitted only in cases such as rape, incest and to save the woman’s life."

The survey found 17 percent said they would limit abortion only to cases where a woman’s life is in danger and 5 percent said abortions should never be permitted.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute, a research group affiliated with Planned Parenthood, conducted a comprehensive survey in 2004 to find out why women have abortions.

Asked to list the most important reason for the abortion, just 4.5 percent of women cited rape, incest or the pregnancy causing life-threatening or severe health problems. Just .5 percent of women said the abortion was because they were a victim of rape.

As a result, 55 percent of those polled indicated they oppose 95 percent or more of the 1.3 million abortions annually in the United States.

Just 42 percent in the CBS News poll indicated they support legalized abortion, with 27 percent saying abortion should be permitted in all cases. Some 15 percent indicated they backed legal abortion but believed it should be "subject to greater restrictions than it is now."

That means 70 percent of Americans in the CBS News poll believe greater limits should be placed on abortions.

CBS News conducted the same poll in July 2005 and found a 53-43 percent pro-life breakdown on abortion — a net change of 3 percent in favor of the pro-life position n the January 2006 poll.

The CBS News poll featured telephone interviews with 1,151 American adults and was conducted from January 4-8. The margin of error is 3 percent.