Friday, January 19, marks the 45th annual March for Life, and tens if not hundreds of thousands of people are marching to the Supreme Court to demand the United States protects life from conception. According to a new poll, those protesters represent a majority of Americans who support increased restrictions on abortion.
Even though more Americans describe themselves as “pro-choice” (51 percent) than “pro-life” (44 percent), a vast majority of Americans support significant restrictions on abortion, according to a Marist/Knights of Columbus (KOC) poll published Wednesday.
The poll asked at what time abortion should be legal, and most Americans said the practice should only be legal in certain circumstances.
More than three-quarters (76 percent) of Americans said abortion should only be legal within the first three months of pregnancy; or only in cases of rape, incest, or a threat to the life of the mother; or only to save the mother’s life; or never at all. Even 60 percent of “pro-choice” Americans agreed with these restrictions, as did 61 percent of Democrats.
Naturally, pro-life Americans strongly agreed with limiting abortion to these cases, with a whopping 95 percent saying abortion should only be legal under such circumstances. Nearly half (46 percent) of pro-life Americans said abortion should only be legal in cases of rape, incest, or in cases where the mother’s life is in danger. Almost a quarter (23 percent) of them said it should only be allowed when the mother’s life is threatened.
Republicans (92 percent) also agreed with these restrictions, as did 78 percent of independents.
The idea that abortion should be legal at any time during pregnancy is unpopular, with only 12 percent of Americans supporting it. Even most “pro-choice” Americans (79 percent) disagree with this position, as do most Democrats (79 percent).
Even a 20-week abortion ban — which pro-abortion activists have protested by dressing up like handmaids from “The Handmaid’s Tale” — receives wide support among Americans. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) said they support such a ban. Even most Democrats (56 percent) and “pro-choice” Americans (56 percent) support a ban on abortion after 20 weeks.
A full 60 percent of Americans also said they oppose using tax dollars to pay for a woman’s abortion.
The survey also revealed fascinating truths about Americans’ views about abortion and morality. More than half of Americans (56 percent) described abortion as morally wrong, even if they believe it should be legal.
A full 64 percent of Americans said that choosing to abort a child because he or she has been diagnosed with a genetic disorder such as Down Syndrome is morally wrong, even if they think it should be legal. Nearly half (49 percent) of “pro-choice” Americans also condemned such an act as morally wrong.
Most Americans also think that abortion does more harm than good to a woman’s life in the long run. More than half (52 percent) said so, while only 29 percent said abortion “improves a woman’s life.” Among Republicans, 73 percent said abortion does more harm than good. A majority of independents (50 percent) agreed, and even 34 percent of Democrats did also. Less than half (44 percent) of Democrats said abortion “improves a woman’s life.”
Abortion remains a salient issue in the United States. According to the poll, nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of Americans said a politician’s position on abortion is a “major” (42 percent) or a “minor” (29 percent) factor in a presidential race.
This applies even more strongly to congressional races, an important fact to note in the 2018 off-year elections. Almost half (45 percent) of Americans said a congressional candidate’s position on abortion is a “major” factor determining their support, while 28 percent said it is a “minor” factor. Less than a quarter (24 percent) of Americans said it was “not a factor.”
The March for Life advocates for the dignity and sanctity of human life, and this poll suggests most Americans agree that abortion is morally wrong and should be severely limited. Pro-life activists and politicians have advocated for limits on abortion — most notably a ban on the practice after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
While abortion activists have condemned these moves as draconian or somehow in opposition to women’s rights, most Americans — and even most self-described “pro-choice” Americans — agree with such restrictions.
The media may twist the March for Life, underestimating the numbers, giving it little coverage, or refusing to mention its name, instead branding it a “march against abortion.” Even so, most Americans side with the basic thrust of the march — advocating for limits to, if not a prohibition of, abortion. Perhaps Democrats should listen, as the 2018 elections near.