Analysis

New poll: Most Americans still favor significant restrictions on abortion

abortion, pro-life

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case dealing with Mississippi’s ban on abortions starting at about four months (15 weeks) of pregnancy. Arguments are expected to begin in the fall of 2021, with a decision likely the following summer. The case will, in part, determine if banning abortion prior to the ever-changing standard of “viability” (the ability of the preborn child to survive outside the womb) are constitutional. Polling, however, has found that Americans support bans on abortion after the first trimester of pregnancy, like Mississippi’s.

The Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) recently commissioned a national poll of likely voters, which asked them to choose between one of two candidates: a Republican who supported a 15-week abortion ban, or a Democrat who supported unrestricted abortion on demand, through all nine months of pregnancy. The poll found that 53% of voters would support the Republican candidate in this instance, with only 28% supporting the Democrat.

Additionally, the polling also indicated that information on fetal development sways people’s opinions.

When Americans learn that the preborn child is able to feel pain by 15 weeks, for example, they are more likely to support a ban on abortions at four months and later. Other information on fetal development had a similar effect on respondents’ opinions. The respondents were informed that by 15 weeks, a preborn baby has “a beating heart, can move around in the womb, can close his or her fingers, can start to make sucking motions and hiccup, and senses stimulation from outside the womb.”

The poll concluded that overall, Americans do not support unlimited abortion on demand, even across party lines.

READ: New poll: Most Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion in US and abroad

“[W]hile the issue of abortion is a stronger motivator in deciding one’s vote for Republicans, even Independent voters side with the pro-life side of the argument, creating a strong center-right coalition,” the poll concluded. “On top of this, when voters are reminded that at the 15 week mark the child can feel pain, shows significant signs of development and the risk to the mother greatly increases, our support only grows. Taken as a whole this survey shows broad support for limiting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.”

While this particular poll was commissioned by a pro-life organization, it stands in line with other polling results, including from unbiased outlets. While the abortion industry has claimed that 7 in 10 Americans support legal abortion (unrestricted and on demand), polling has consistently found that while Americans want abortion to remain legal, they also want it heavily restricted. Almost 70% of people want abortion limited to the first trimester. Common-sense restrictions, like parental consent, waiting periods, and informed consent before undergoing an abortion, also receive widespread support. Just 7% of Americans support completely unrestricted, taxpayer-funded abortion.

“The majority of voters reject late-term abortion and the Democratic candidates who shamefully advocate for it,” SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement. “At 15 weeks, unborn children can feel pain, and most European countries limit abortions at this point. There is strong support among the American people for our nation’s laws to finally catch up with science and international norms.”

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