New Poll: Americans Pro-Life, Don’t Understand Roe v. Wade Abortion Case

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 26, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Poll: Americans Pro-Life, Don’t Understand Roe v. Wade Abortion Case Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 26, 2006

Washington, DC ( — A new poll released by a collection of pro-life groups finds that Americans take a pro-life view on wanting to prohibit all or most abortions, but they don’t understand that Roe v. Wade currently allows for virtually unlimited abortions. Most Americans polled think Roe places much greater restrictions on abortion that it does.

Conducted by the Polling Company research firm, it founds that while 65 percent of Americans say they are familiar with the 1973 landmark abortion case, Roe vs. Wade, only 29 percent are able to select an accurate description of the ruling.

Sixty-five percent of respondents said they considered themselves familiar (23 percent very familiar and 42 percent somewhat familiar) with Roe while 31 percent said they were not familiar with the details of the high court case (19 percent just a little familiar and 12 percent not at all familiar).

However, only 29 percent correctly said that Roe made abortion legal in essentially all circumstances throughout pregnancy.

Some 18 percent wrongly thought Roe prohibits all abortions except those in the first trimester, 15% said they thought it made abortion legal in only the first two trimesters, and 15% indicated they thought it made abortion legal only in very rare circumstances.

When asked their views on when abortion should be legal, Americans took a pro-life view in opposition of what Roe did by a 54-41 percent margin.

The poll found 54 percent took one of three pro-life positions opposing either all abortions, al abortions except those to save the life of the mother, or all abortions except cases involving the life of the mother, rape or incest.

Just 41 percent took one of three pro-abortion positions allowing all or most abortions.

“Roe is hanging by a thread that is increasingly being frayed by the American people’s exposure to the facts of abortion," Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List explained. These numbers show that our abortion laws don’t represent the beliefs of the vast majority of Americans, including American women."

"Americans do not agree with what Roe permits– that is, unrestricted abortion for any reason, even as a method of birth control," Karen Cross, the political director of National Right to Life, added.

Recent polls have all shown a clear pro-life margin on the issue of abortion.

A CBS News poll earlier this month found a 47 percent took a pro-life position opposing all or most abortions while 46 percent took a pro-abortion position. A January CBS News poll found a 50-42 pro-life split.

The Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll also released this month found a 51-46 pro-life split. and other recent polls, such as those from Gallup and Wirthlin Worldwide, have found a 55-45 percent pro-life margin.

Pro-life groups said the poll was especially encouraging because it found that the 18-34 year old group (especially 18-34 year old women) was more likely than respondents overall to identify with one of the three pro-life views of abortion.

In the new poll, the Polling Company surveyed 1000 adults age 18 and over on April 13-14, 2006. The margin of error is calculated at +/- 3.1 percent.