Changing America

Majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal in some cases, poll says

A Pew Research Center poll found 61 percent of U.S. adults say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
Demonstrators protest outside of the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday, May 3, 2022 in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Story at a glance

  • A new nationwide poll found a majority of Americans support the right to an abortion with fewer than 8 percent saying it should be illegal in every case, without exception. 

  • Of those who believe abortion should be illegal in most or all cases, 46 percent said it should be allowed if the pregnancy threatens the woman’s life or health.

  • The survey was taken before the leak of a U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion indicating the high court is poised to undue Roe v. Wade.

Most Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances, according to a recent national poll.  

The Pew Research Center published the results of a poll conducted in March that found 61 percent of U.S. adults believe abortion should be legal in most cases, while 37 percent said abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.  

The poll explores the nuances of abortion rights just as a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court indicates the high court is likely to overturn Roe v. Wade in a monumental abortion rights case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.  

Though the final opinion will be issued in June, nearly one in five U.S. adults say that abortion should be legal in all cases, with no exceptions. Fewer than 8 percent say abortion should be illegal in every case, without exception.  

Pew also found that most abortion rights supporters, 56 percent, believe the length of a pregnancy should determine the legality of an abortion. This share of adults also believe abortion providers should be required to get the consent of a parent or guardian before performing an abortion on a minor.  


America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news. 


At the same time, there are large shares of U.S. adults who oppose abortion but concede it should be legal in certain situations or circumstances. For example, of those who said abortion should be illegal in “most” or “all” cases, Pew found that 46 percent believe it should be legal if the pregnancy threatens the women’s life or health — another 36 percent believe abortion should be legal if the pregnancy is the result of rape. 

Many states have passed laws restricting abortions at a specific point during pregnancy, with more than a third of states implementing 20-week abortion bans, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion advocacy group.  

However, there are states that have enacted laws prohibiting or severely limiting abortion much earlier in a pregnancy, like Oklahoma and Texas, which have outlawed abortions after six weeks. Both states also do not include exceptions in cases of rape or incest but will allow an abortion if it will save the life of the pregnant mother.  

Pew found nearly half of U.S. adults, 48 percent, think there are circumstances in which abortion is morally wrong, but should nevertheless be legal.  

Notably, Pew also found that 57 percent of adults believe stricter abortion laws would reduce the number of abortions performed in the U.S., but larger shares of people think there are other methods. About 65 percent believe expanding sex education could help lower the number of abortions, another 65 percent think increasing support for pregnant mothers can reduce abortions and 58 percent think increasing support for parents would have the same effect. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates in 2019 there were about 630,000 legal induced abortions in the U.S. Women in their 20s accounted for most of those abortions, at 57 percent, and about 93 percent took place at 13 weeks or earlier.  


READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA 

MISSOURI LAWMAKERS CONSIDER EXTENDING PROPOSED BAN ON GENDER-AFFIRMING CARE TO ADULTS 

HEALTH EXPERTS URGE PARENTS TRAVELING WITH KIDS TO CONTINUE TO WEAR MASKS, CONSIDER NOT TAKING FLIGHTS  

OHIO AG WARNS OF RISE IN ‘FRANKENSTEIN OPIOIDS’ MORE DANGEROUS THAN FENTANYL 

OVER 1,000 SCIENTISTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD TAKE TO THE STREETS IN WEEK-LONG CLIMATE PROTESTS 

 
SOUTH CAROLINA HOUSE PASSES BILL FOR DOCTORS TO DENY CARE THAT VIOLATES ‘CONSCIENCE’