Gallup Finds “Pro-Choice” Americans Back Most Abortion Limits

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 8, 2011   |   6:08PM   |   Washington, DC

When abortion backers say most Americans are “pro-choice” on abortion, new polling data from Gallup finds that no only is that incorrect but even a strong majority of “pro-choice” Americans support most abortion limits.

Today, Gallup released more of its most recent polling data on abortion, where it asked Americans if they support a wide range of pro-life laws that have been effective in stopping abortions. As Gallup notes:

“Self-described “pro-choice” and “pro-life” Americans agree about nine major areas of abortion policy, while disagreeing on eight others. Among the areas of consensus, in which a majority of both groups hold the same opinion, especially large percentages are in favor of requiring informed consent for women (86% of pro-choice adults and 87% who are pro-life) and making abortion illegal in the third trimester (79% and 94%).”

Some 86 percent of “pro-choice” Americans favor giving women information about abortion’s risks and alternatives beforehand, 79 percent favor banning abortions in the third-trimester, 63 percent favor banning partial-birth abortions, 60 percent support parental consent for minors, 60 percent back a 24-hour abortion waiting period, and even 52 percent of “pro-choice” Americans want abortions to be made illegal in the second trimester.

The only abortion limits where those who describe themselves as favoring legalized abortion differ with pro-life advocates are allowing women a chance to see ultrasound before an abortion (where 28 percent of “pro-choice” people agree with such a law), banning federal funding for abortion businesses (23 percent agree), and allowing pharmacists and medical workers to opt out of participating in or referring for abortions.

The Gallup survey also found “pro-choice” Americans support abortion as a means of birth control (64 percent), in the first trimester (89 percent) and when the baby may have a condition such as Down syndrome (76%), or physical disabilities (75%). They also support abortion when a pregnancy “endangers” a woman’s mental health (87 percent) even though most research shows abortion causes more mental health issues than carrying to term.

Earlier this year, Gallup found churchgoers are more likely to have a pro-life position opposing abortion. Regardless of whether the person surveyed by Gallup is a Democrat or Republican, the poll found those who attend weekly religious services are about twice as likely to self-identify as pro-life compared with respondents who say they seldom or never attend church services.

Gallup also found that, 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.

Gallup measured U.S. public support for the legality of abortion in each of seven specific circumstances, as well as in each trimester, in a June 9-12 national survey. A follow-up survey conducted July 15-17 measured Americans’ support for several different abortion regulations that have become common across the states, as well as for abortion funding policies. The survey found a 47-47 percent split when Americans identify themselves as either pro-life or “pro-choice” on abortion.