Americans are sharply divided in their opinion of abortion, including an equal split between those who believe it is morally acceptable and those who say it is wrong, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.
According to the survey, 46% say that abortion is wrong from a moral perspective. But the 47% who say it is acceptable is an all-time high by two percentage points in two decades that the question has been measured.
Other results from the poll indicate:
- The largest gap regarding the morality of abortion was in 2009, when 56% said it was morally wrong and only 36% said it was acceptable. That gap, for the most part, has considerably narrowed over the past decade.
- Among Democrats, 64% say that abortion is morally acceptable, which is up considerably from a decade ago but actually slightly down from last year. There has been a sharp increase among independents who say abortion is morally acceptable, going up to 51% from only 40% last year. Among Republicans, only 26% consider abortion to be morally acceptable, a number that has remained relatively consistent over the past number of years.
- The public is also equally divided among those who personally identify as "pro-choice" (49%) and those who consider themselvs "pro-life" (47%). The gap between the two views has remained constant over the past eight years, although pro-life and pro-choice have traded off being the leading view during that time period.
- Democrats largely consider themselves to be pro-choice (70%), while almost three-fourths of Republicans say they are pro-life (74%). Independents are pro-choice by a considerable gap, 53%, compared to only 41% who say they are pro-life.
- Americans remain much more likely to believe abortion should be legal "only under certain circumstances" (48%) than to support it being legal "under any circumstances" (32%) or "illegal in all circumstances" (19%). The nearly one-third of U.S. adults who back fully legal abortions is the highest such percentage since the early to mid-1990s, when it was consistently at that level.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted between May 3 and May 18, with a random sample of 1,016 adults. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
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