NPR Poll: 59% of Americans Say Having an Abortion is Wrong

Politics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 3, 2011   |   10:47AM   |   Washington, DC

A new poll conducted by Thomson Reuters for NPR, coming after a Gallup survey showing Americans oppose all or most abortions, finds a majority of Americans say having an abortion is wrong.

NPR asked “do you personally believe having an abortion is wrong” and 59.3 percent of Americans polled said yes compared with just 40.7 percent who said no. The youngest age category of those polled, under 35, gave the most pro-life responses with 65.5 percent saying that having an abortion is wrong.

The results compare with a new Gallup survey released earlier this week showing 51 percent of Americans say abortion is “morally wrong,” compared with just 39 percent who say abortion is morally acceptable.

The NPR survey also asked respondents Do you think abortion should be legal in all cases; legal in most cases; illegal in most cases; or illegal in all cases. The results of that question showed 52 percent of Americans took a pro-abortion position saying they (20.2%) want abortions legal in all cases or (31.7%) legal in most cases. On the pro-life side, 48 percent want all (19.2%) or most (28%) abortions illegal.

Looking at that question further, those under the age of 35 gave the most pro-life response again with 57 percent saying they wanted all or almost all abortions made illegal.

The NPR poll did not specify when most abortions are done and with some Americans wrongly believing that a good percentage are done in cases of rape or incest, some respondents likely indicated they wanted abortions legal in most cases when they actually oppose most abortions since 98% of abortions are done for birth control reasons.

The NPR survey also asked, “Would you like to see abortion laws in this country made…more strict; less strict; remain the same?” The survey found 45.9% wanted the laws more strict while 54.1 percent wanted the laws to stay the same. The results make it clear that some Americans believe abortion laws are more strict than they are currently — as the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision made it so abortion is essentially available at any point in pregnancy for any reason. As was the case with other questions, those under 35 gave the most pro-life response — with 54.6 percent wanting to make abortion laws more strict.

NPR’s survey of 3,013 adults, which was conducted in early March, also asked a question about public funding of abortions in health insurance plans and 58% said they opposed public funding of abortions while 42 percent said they supported it.

In the new Gallup poll the NPR survey follows, by a 24 percent margin, 61-37 percent, Americans take the pro-life view that abortions should either be legal under no circumstances or legal only under a few circumstances. Although Gallup doesn’t specify those “few” circumstances, polling data has consistently shown that, when asked about cases such as rape,  incest, or the life of the mother, a majority of Americans want all or almost all abortions made illegal — leaving only life of the mother or rape and incest as the exceptions.

As is the case with most national surveys, a majority of Americans all say abortion is “morally wrong” — something the Gallup poll has shown since 2001.

“Just over half of Americans, 51%, believe abortion is “morally wrong,” while 39% say it is “morally acceptable.” Americans’ views on this have been fairly steady since 2002, except for 2006, when they were evenly divided,” the Gallup poll indicated.