Most Americans Favor Abortion

abortion cadaceus fetus CBS/AP

A majority of Americans support abortion rights, but that support is highest when a woman's life or health is in danger or there is evidence the baby will be physically or mentally impaired, recent polls suggest.

Public support for abortion rights wanes in later stages of the pregnancy and when abortion is chosen because the woman or family cannot afford to raise the child.

More than six in 10 in a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press said they oppose the Supreme Court completely overturning the high court's decision 30 years ago allowing legal abortions. That number has been essentially unchanged for more than a decade.

But public support for abortion rights varies considerably, depending on the circumstances.

Nearly six in 10 in a Gallup poll, 57 percent, said abortion should be legal only under certain circumstances. A quarter said abortions should be legal in any circumstances.

Here are some examples of public support for abortion rights in different circumstances, according to the Gallup poll:

85 percent support abortion rights when the woman's life is endangered.

77 percent support abortion rights when the woman's health is endangered.

76 percent support abortion rights when the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest.

55 percent support abortion rights when there is evidence the baby's physical or mental health may be impaired.

35 percent support abortion rights when the woman or family cannot afford to raise the child.

The Pew poll of 1,218 adults was taken Jan. 8-12 and the Gallup poll of 1,002 adults was taken Jan. 10-12. Both have error margins of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
  • Sue Chan

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