Poll: 71% of Americans want limits on abortion

The poll also found that 54% of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortions.

A protester holds an "Overturn Roe v. Wade" sign during Friday's March for Life in Washington, D.C. (Alpha News)

(The Daily Signal) — Many Americans reject a central tenet of the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision on abortion and want to return the power to limit abortion to the states, a poll released Thursday found.

Some 71% of Americans support legal limits on abortion, according to a new poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus and conducted by the Marist Poll. The Knights of Columbus, a global Catholic fraternal service order, has commissioned the poll examining American attitudes on abortion annually for more than a decade.

Abortion advocates repeatedly claim that most Americans support Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide. But pro-life advocates argue that many Americans do not fully understand what the Supreme Court decision entailed.

“When it comes to the direction of government policy, there has been consistency and consensus in American public opinion on the issue of abortion over the decades,” Barbara Carvalho, director of the Marist Poll, said in a statement.

The poll also found that 54% of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortions and that 81% of Americans support laws that protect both the mother and the unborn baby.

Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly, head of the Knights of Columbus, said in a statement that the polling demonstrates that more than 60% of Americans “reject the central holding of Roe v. Wade” and “want to return the decision to the states or make abortion illegal.”

The findings are particularly relevant, Kelly said, as Americans await a decision in the Supreme Court case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, involving a 2018 Mississippi law that banned abortions after 15 weeks.

A federal appellate court blocked the law, known as the Gestational Age Act, after abortion proponents challenged it on behalf of Mississippi’s last remaining abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

“Roe v. Wade was wrong when it was decided, and its legacy is the tragic destruction of more than 60 million unborn lives and countless wounded women,” Kelly said. “The time has come for America to turn the page on Roe.”

“Our polling also shows that Americans oppose policies that divert tax dollars to pay for abortion here and abroad,” Kelly added. “This is especially relevant as the bipartisan Hyde Amendment prohibiting taxpayer funding of abortion is in danger.”

According to the poll, 17% of Democrats, 70% of Republicans, and 40% of independents identify as pro-life, while 82% of Democrats, 25% of Republicans, and 57% of independents identify as pro-abortion.

American abortion sentiment differs in a variety of ways, the new polling found, but 71% of Americans support at least some restrictions on abortions.

While 17% of Americans agreed with the statement that abortion “should be available to a woman any time she wants one during her entire pregnancy,” 12% of Americans agree with the statement that “abortions should be allowed only during the first six months of a pregnancy,” and 22% of Americans agreed with the statement that “abortion should be allowed only during the first three months of a pregnancy.”

A larger group of Americans, 28%, said that “abortion should be allowed only in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother,” while 9% of Americans said that abortion should be allowed “only to save the life of the mother.”

And 12% of Americans said that “abortion should never be permitted under any circumstance.”

The Marist Poll surveyed 1,004 adults between Jan. 4 and Jan. 9 by phone, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.


Mary Margaret Olohan
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Mary Margaret Olohan is a reporter for The Daily Signal.