Gallup Poll: Americans Support Pro-Life Laws Limiting Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 25, 2011   |   1:29PM   |   Washington, DC

A new Gallup survey asked Americans their opinion about a slate of pro-life laws frequently considered by Congress and state legislatures across the country and the results show most Americans support most pro-life laws.

“Large majorities of Americans favor the broad intent of several types of abortion restriction laws that are now common in many states, but have mixed or negative reactions to others,” Gallup reported in its new poll.

The results show 87 percent of Americans support laws requiring abortion practitioners to inform women of the risks associated with an abortion before doing one, another 71 percent support parental consent before a teen under 18 can get an abortion, and 69 percent of Americans support a 24 hour waiting period before an abortion so women can find abortion alternatives.

Gallup also indicated 64 percent support laws making partial-birth abortions illegal, and 50 percent of Americans support laws allowing women a chance to see an ultrasound of their unborn children before an abortion is done — something abortion centers routinely perform but don’t normally allow women considering an abortion to view.

The national poll conducted from July 15-17 found just two pro-life laws not securing support from a majority of Americans — laws allowing pharmacists to opt out of dispensing drugs that can cause abortions and laws “prohibiting health clinics that provide abortion services from receiving any federal funds.” The second question hits at the recent efforts by state legislatures and Congress to de-fund the Planned Parenthood abortion business, but it is worded in a way that might make respondents concerned about hospitals losing federal funding — which is not normally the case under such laws.

The Gallup poll also found partisan differences with respect to the various pro-life laws but few differences when it comes to men and women — as both support most of the pro-life laws mentioned in the survey. Women were more likely to back the waiting period and parental consent and also were more supportive of informed consent, and ultrasound laws. Men supported the partial-birth abortion ban, the ban on funding Planned Parenthood, and the pharmacist opt-out laws.

When it comes to splits between Republicans and Democrats, a majority of Democrats supported four of the pro-life laws and 49 percent backed the ultrasound law. The only laws a strong majority of Democrats opposed were bans on funding Planned Parenthood and the pharmacists’ conscience clause.

“Residents of the states where these laws have been passed may have views that differ from those of the public at large,” Gallup also noted. “While Gallup does not have state-level data on these questions, regional breakdowns show that residents of the South and Midwest are generally more supportive of the policies than those in the East and West. This is particularly true for attitudes on mandatory ultrasound counseling, parental consent laws, 24-hour waiting periods, and bans on funding of abortion clinics.”

Gallup also asked Americans when they though abortions should be legal and found Americans, by a 62-35 percent split, want first-trimester abortions legal. They oppose second-trimester abortions 71-24 percent and third-term abortions 86-10 percent.

That’s a different result from its own survey earlier this year finding 61 percent of Americans want all or most abortions made illegal.

“Most Americans favor laws that require abortion providers to inform women of certain risks and consequences of abortion and give parents more control over their daughters’ reproductive decisions. They are also broadly receptive to laws that protect the fetus late in pregnancy, including “partial birth abortions.” While Americans might not agree with specific aspects of all of these laws as enacted, they do favor the broad outlines as described in Gallup polling,” Gallup concluded.

Brianna Walden of the Family Research Council commented on the new poll.

“One of highlights of the various 2011 state legislative sessions is the successful passage of many solid pro-life bills.  According to a recent report by Guttmacher, 80 bills restricting abortion were passed in 19 states, more than tripling the 23 passed last year.  This impressive number not only sets a record for the most life-affirming bills passed in one year, but it also more than doubles the previous record of 34 bills in 2005,” she said. “Some abortion advocates suggest that this is an example of legislators with extreme right-wing social ideologies “pushing” their agenda on the people in their state who likely do not agree with them on these issues.  They even go so far as to assert that there has been an all out “attack on women” by these state legislators.”

“Now, thanks to Gallup poll data released today, we can check those assertions.  Are these pro-life legislators out of touch or do they reflect the feelings of the majority of Americans?  Are women feeling attacked and fighting back, or do they support and advocate bills that require their doctor to fully inform them of potential abortion risks, show them an ultrasound, and get parental consent for minors to receive an abortion?” she added. “Data from this poll also affirms a striking consistency in polling data that abortion is not a man verses woman issue, with men pushing pro-life views on women who just want to make choices with their pregnancies.  To the contrary, four out of seven pro-life measures addressed in this poll scored a higher percentage of support among women than men!”