New Poll: Most Americans Support Abortion Restrictions

Signs outside the Supreme Court during the March for Life rally, January 27, 2017. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

Even respondents who call themselves “pro-choice” tend to want significant legal protections for unborn children.

According to a new Marist poll out today, more than three-quarters of Americans support significant restrictions on abortion, including a majority of Americans who describe themselves as pro-choice.

The survey was commissioned by the Knights of Columbus and surveyed more than 1,000 adults in the U.S. in mid January, and it has a margin of error of 3.5 points. For more than a decade, the group has commissioned Marist to conduct a public-opinion survey on abortion each January ahead of the annual March for Life, and its nuanced questions tend to give useful insight into Americans’ views on abortion policy.

While Americans who call themselves pro-choice (53 percent) outnumber those who describe themselves as pro-life (43 percent), most Americans believe that abortion should be limited to the first three months of pregnancy, if it’s permitted at all. A slim majority of respondents said abortion either shouldn’t be permitted at all or should be legal only in cases where a mother’s life is in danger or when she has been the victim of rape or incest.

Just 15 percent of Americans say they support keeping abortion available to women at any point during pregnancy, and less than one-third of pro-choice Americans say the same. In fact, a majority of pro-choice respondents said they would limit abortion to the first three months of pregnancy — the so-called hard cases — or not at all.

Though supporters of unlimited legal abortion often claim that an overwhelming majority of Americans supports the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, the Marist poll results suggest otherwise. Almost two-thirds of respondents said that if the Court reconsiders Roe, it should either…

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