Gallup Poll: Just 28 Percent of Americans Take Pro-Abortion Position

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 30, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Gallup Poll: Just 28 Percent of Americans Take Pro-Abortion Position

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 30
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — A new Gallup poll finds just 28 percent of Americans take a pro-abortion position on the question of when abortions should be allowed. Another 71 percent of Americans either want all abortions to be illegal or want them limited to certain rare circumstances.

Gallup asked the polling question on an annual basis and it found the abortion levels are holding steady in each of the three categories.

Some 28 percent of Americans say abortions should be "legal under any circumstances" and that figure is up two percent form last year but down two percent from 2006.

Gallup found 17 percent of Americans want abortion illegal in all circumstances, a decrease of one percent from 2007 and an increase of two percent from 2006.

Most Americans fall in the category of wanting abortions to be legal in some circumstances and illegal in others — with 54 percent saying so this year compared with 55 percent in 2007 and 53 percent in 2006.

However, Gallup doesn’t ask a follow-up question to determine when those circumstances occur.

Most Americans typically say they want abortions allowed in cases to save the life of the mother, rape or incest, if the unborn child has life-ending physical problems, or other rare circumstances. In all other circumstances, most Americans say abortions shouldn’t be allowed.

According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, those types of "hard cases" constitute less than two or three percent of all abortions annually.

As a result, it appears 71 percent of Americans oppose, and want illegal, either all or 97-98 percent of all abortions in the United States.

Other polls are somewhat more instructive, yet still don’t give enough specifics on when abortion should be legal or illegal.

A January 2007 CBS News poll found a majority of Americans want to prohibit abortions in all or most cases or want greater restrictions on abortions. The poll results are consistent with the results from 2006 when more than half of those polled wanted to make abortion illegal all or most of the time.

The poll was conducted from January 18-21 and it surveyed 1,168 adults nationwide.

The survey asked respondents to give their "personal feeling" about abortion and asked them whether they wanted abortion to be always permitted, subject to greater restrictions, allowed only in cases of rape, incest or saving the life of the mother, or only allowed to save the life of the mother.

CBS News did not ask respondents whether they thought abortion should never be allowed, although it tabulated the results of those who volunteered that answer.

According to the CBS News poll, 47 percent of Americans want to prohibit all or most abortions and 16 percent want them to be greatly restricted.

About 30 percent of those polled want to limit abortions to the very rare cases of rape, incest or life of the mother and another 12 percent want abortions allowed only in when the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life. Another 5 percent said abortions should always be illegal.

Just 31 percent of the public wants to permit abortion in all cases.