Majority of Americans Favor More Restrictions on Abortion, New Poll Shows

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 7, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Majority of Americans Favor More Restrictions on Abortion, New Poll Shows Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 7, 2006

Washington, DC ( — A new poll conducted by the Pew Research Center and released at the end of last week finds a strong majority of Americans want more restrictions on abortions and almost half say it should be illegal in all or most circumstances.

The July 6-19 poll surveyed 2,003 American adults and found that 46 percent of Americans want abortion to be banned altogether (11 percent) or legal only in a few rare instances (35 percent).

Along with those, another 20 percent said abortion should be allowed but want more restrictions on it — making a total of 64 percent of Americans who want abortions banned or restricted.

Just 31 percent of the public wants abortion to be generally available and not have more restrictions placed on it.

The Pew poll found men and women were almost identical in their abortion answers, Americans under 29 and over 60 were most likely to oppose abortion and conservative Democrats and Republicans were more likely to be pro-life than liberal members of both parties.

Evangelicals, black evangelicals and Catholics were more likely to be pro-life than members of mainline Protestant churches and non-Christians.

The poll shows a pro-life shift since the last survey in July 2005, when 35 percent wanted abortion generally available and 40 percent wanted it legal in all or most cases.

Some 73 percent of Americans said in the Pew poll that abortion was morally wrong while just 24 percent said it was not a moral issue.

The survey also found 55% prefer that abortion laws be decided at the national level rather than each state deciding for itself.

According to the poll 66 percent of respondents support finding "a middle ground" when it comes to abortion while 29 percent believe "there’s no room for compromise when it comes to abortion laws."

Majorities of Republicans (62%), Democrats (70%) and political independents (66%) favor a compromise, but with polling results form other polls showing a majority of Americans want all or most abortions illegal, a compromise leaving abortion legal only int he very rare cases of rape, incest or life of the mother may be what most favor.

The Pew poll also found that 66 percent of Americans never wonder if their position on abortion is the right one while just 30 percent appear to be open to changing their view. That’s about the same as the results of a 1988 Gallup poll.

The Pew poll has a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.