October 1, 2009
Study: Support for Abortion Dips
A new survey suggests that fewer Americans support abortion than in recent years, and the country appears evenly divided on the issue.
The survey (pdf) found that 47 percent say abortion should be legal in all or most cases and 44 percent believe it should be illegal all or most of the time. Surveys in previous years showed that 54 percent of Americans supported legal abortion while 40 percent thought abortion should be illegal.
68 percent of white evangelical Protestants who attend church on a weekly basis cited religious beliefs as the main influence on their opinions about abortion. For those who support legalized abortion, 11 percent cited religious as the primary influence for their stance while 53 percent of Americans who say abortion cited religion.
Other findings include:
--An increase in Americans favor reducing abortion, from 59 percent in 2005 to 65 percent this year.
--The abortion debate has declined in importance for liberals while opposing abortion has grown more important for conservatives.
--One of the largest declines in support for abortion were among Catholics who attend Mass at least weekly.
--Support for abortion went down nine points among Democratic men but did not change among Democratic women.
--About three-in-ten Americans think that President Obama will handle the abortion issue well, while four-in-ten are unaware of his position. About two-in-ten are concerned that Obama will go too far in supporting legalized abortion.
The survey of 4,013 adults was conducted from August 11-27 by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
Other findings specifically about white evangelicals include:
--83 percent of them express support for parental consent laws.
--35 percent of weekly churchgoing evangelicals see the abortion issue critically important.
--52 percent of pro-choice evangelical Protestants express respect for the opposing view, compared with 32 percent of pro-life evangelicals who express the same respect.
--59 percent of weekly churchgoing evangelicals say there is no room for compromise on abortion (49 percent of white evangelicals overall).
--Evangelicals are skeptical of President Obama's desire to reduce the number of abortions (29 percent say he holds this view while 47 percent of religiously unaffiliated believe the same thing).
-- Four-in-ten evangelicals say that Obama will overreach on abortion rights, while just 19 percent of Catholics and 14 percent of white mainline Protestants said the same thing.