Poll: Americans Back Waiting Period, Ultrasound Abortion Bills

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 10, 2011   |   12:55PM   |   Washington, DC

A new national poll reveals a strong majority of Americans favor state legislation that requires a waiting period before an abortion and they say such laws are effective in reducing the number of abortions.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds 65 percent of Americans support a three-day waiting period and counseling before an abortion while just 24 percent oppose such a requirement and 11 percent are unsure.

“A proposal has been made that would require a three-day waiting period and counseling before having an abortion. Do you favor or oppose such a proposal?” the question asked. “Suppose a law was passed that would require a three-day waiting period and   counseling before having an abortion. How likely is it that such a law reduce the number   of abortions?”

As to the second part of the question, 65 percent of Americans believe the waiting period and counseling are at least somewhat likely to reduce the number of abortions with 33 percent saying it is very likely to reduce abortions. Just 30 percent say the requirement is unlikely to reduce the prevalence of abortion and just 7 percent say it is very unlikely to do so.

The polling data concerns a law the South Dakota state legislature passed that Gov. Dennis Daugaard is expected to sign that would require women seeking an abortion to wait three days and have counseling about adoption and other parenting issues before undergoing the abortion.

Rasmussen also asked about a law the Texas legislature has supported that would allow women a chance to see an ultrasound of their unborn child prior to an abortion — something abortion centers routinely perform but may not allow women a chance to see beforehand. The polling data found 48 percent of Americans support this law while only 38 percent are opposed to it and 14 percent are unsure.

However, 62% think it is at least somewhat likely that such a law would reduce the number of abortions, including 32% who say it is very likely that the ultrasound bill will reduce in fewer abortions. Just 31 percent of Americans polled say an ultrasound bill like the one in Texas will not likely cut abortions and only 7 percent said it is very unlikely abortions would go down as result.

Women are slightly more supportive than men of both the waiting period and sonogram measures. Most men and women are in general agreement, though, that the measures are likely to reduce the number of abortions.

The new Rasmussen poll also found a plurality of Americans say they are pro-life on abortion with 44 percent saying so, 42 percent saying they are “pro-choice” and 13 percent undecided. Married adults and adults with children at home are more likely to be pro-life, while unmarried adults and adults without children tend to be more in favor of legalized abortion.

Sixty-seven percent (67%) of Democrats say they are abortion supporters while the same percentage of Republicans (67%) regard themselves as pro-life. Adults not affiliated with either major political party are evenly divided. Eighty-two percent (82%) of Republicans and 62% of unaffiliated adults support the waiting period law, as do 50% of Democrats. But 59% of Democrats oppose the ultrasound proposal, while 68% of GOP adults and a plurality (47%) of unaffiliateds favor it.

Majorities of all three groups agree, however, that both measures are likely to reduce the number of abortions, although Republicans believe that much more strongly than the others.

Despite the strong opinions on the subject, most Americans have not been following news about the new Texas abortion law. Just 28% say they have been following news stories about it at least somewhat closely, with nine percent (9%) who say they have been following very closely.