Poll Finds Majority of Catholics Pro-Life on Abortion, Favor Parental Notification
by Steven Ertelt
October 15, 2008
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A new poll finds that a majority of Catholics take a pro-life position and that almost one-third of Catholic voters who say they are "pro-choice" on abortion actually oppose all or most abortions. The poll also found support for parental notification and pro-life candidates.
As LifeNews.com profiled yesterday, 60 percent of Americans take one of three pro-life positions while just 40 percent take one of three pro-abortion positions and just 8 percent share the abortion position of Barack Obama.
The Marist College poll also had other interesting results, including showing a majority of Catholics are pro-life.
When asked to define themselves as pro-life or "pro-choice," 49 percent of Catholics say they are pro-life while 48 percent say they’re not.
Breaking down those percentages further, 59 percent of practicing Catholics say they are pro-life while just 29 percent of non-practicing Catholics say so.
As with Americans as a whole, the self-identification question includes significant limitations because many Catholics who say they are "pro-choice" actually take a pro-life position on abortion.
The Marist survey found 63 percent of Catholics say abortions should be permitted in none or almost no cases by opposing all abortions, all abortions except to save the mother’s life, or all abortions except to save the mother’s life or in cases of rape or incest.
That puts 63 percent of Catholics opposing about 98 percent of all abortions, according to Alan Guttmacher Institute information about when abortions are done.
Breaking down the polling data further, 72 percent of practicing Catholics take one of the three pro-life positions opposing all or almost all abortions, even though 59 percent call themselves pro-life.
And 47 percent of non-practicing Catholics say they oppose all or most abortions even though 29 percent identified themselves as pro-life.
Just 6 percent of all Catholics, 5 percent of practicing Catholics and 8 percent of non-practicing Catholics say they agree with Barack Obama that abortions should be legal at any time during pregnancy.
The problems associated with polling data with self-identification questions of pro-life or "pro-choice" is exemplified further when "pro-choice" Catholics were asked their specific abortion position.
Some 5 percent said they believe all abortions should be illegal, another 3 percent said they should only be legal to save the life of the mother, and 23 percent included only rape or incest exceptions. In total, 31 percent of "pro-choice" Catholics actually oppose 98 percent or more of the abortions done annually in the United States.
Meanwhile, the poll asked if the parents of a daughter under 18 should have a right to know when she is considering an abortion.
Some 77 percent of Americans, and 79 percent of Catholics, support parental notification while just 19 percent of Americans and 17 percent of Catholics are opposed.
The Marist survey also asked voters whether they would support a candidate who says human life begins at conception.
Fifty percent of Americans said they would definitely vote for such a candidate, 21 percent said they would vote for the candidate but have reservations, and only 22 percent said they would not vote for such a candidate.
Catholics said they would support such a candidate by a 55 to 20 to 19 percent margin.
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