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Majority of U.S. Catholic voters support abortion, poll says


Elvert Barnes|Wikipedia|CC BY-SA 2.0

John Burger - published on 02/25/20

Only 11% believe it should always be illegal.

A majority of Catholic voters in the United States think that abortion should be legal.

A Real Clear Opinion poll conducted for the Catholic television and radio network EWTN found that American Catholics are not much different from the rest of the American electorate in their opinions about abortion’s legality. According to 2019 Gallup polling, 25% of Americans in general think abortion should be “legal under any circumstances. In the EWTN poll, which surveyed some 1,500 Catholic voters, 20% said the practice should always be legal.

In addition to that 20%, 31% of Catholic voters said abortion should be legal except in the case of late-term abortion, also sometimes referred to as partial-birth abortion, and 33% said it should be illegal except in cases of rape, incest or the when the mother’s life is in danger.

That means that 84% of those polled believe abortion should be legal at least in some cases, if not always.

The polling, conducted between January 28 and February 4, found that only 11% of Catholic voters said that abortion should always be illegal. Five percent said they did not know.

Fifty-three percent of respondents believed that abortion is not intrinsically evil, while only 47% agreed with Church teaching that abortion is intrinsically evil.

Forty-five percent of respondents were Democrats, 34% Republican, 20% were Independent or unaffiliated, and 1% answered “don’t know.” Thirty-six percent considered themselves liberal on most political issues, 23% moderate and 40% conservative. 83% said they would be definitely voting in the 2020 presidential election.

Forty-seven percent felt that things are “on the wrong track” in the nation, while 41% felt they are generally headed in the right direction.

In general, 53% disapproved of President Donald J. Trump’s job performance, while 47% approve; 53% approved of Democrats’ performance in Congress, while 47% disapproved. Concerning Republicans in Congress, it was almost opposite: 52% disapproved, while 48% approved.

Among those who said they would probably vote in a Democratic presidential primary or caucus, most supported former Vice President Joe Biden, with 29%. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders came in second with 24%, and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg third, at 17%.

Regarding the general election in November, 34% of respondents said they would definitely vote for Trump, but 36% said they would never vote for him.

In a series of hypothetical scenarios, where various Democratic hopefuls were pitted against Trump, Biden received the highest vote among Catholics, with 51% saying they would vote for him if the election were held today and he was Trump’s opponent. Others matched against Trump were Sanders (50% of Catholics would vote for him); Bloomberg (48%); Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (48%), and former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg (44%).

Fifty percent are open to voting for a third-party candidate, with 50% not open to that.

But 58% of respondents felt that Trump is committed to pro-life policies, with 22% disagreeing with that characterization.

Fifty-six percent agreed with the statement “the Democratic Party represents my values,” while 47% said that of the Republican Party.

Asked which party best protects religious liberty in America, the Democrats had a slight lead over the Republicans, with 33% to 32%.

Other results from the survey found:

  • Current programming from the entertainment industry is mostly unhealthy for our culture, according to 49%, with 35% saying it’s mostly healthy. 57% said there should be more faith-friendly programming, while 22% said there shouldn’t be.
  • 42% believed there is an anti-Christian bias in the media; 36% disagreed.
  • 57% of Catholic voters support the continued use of the death penalty, while 29% oppose it. 36% said they knew that the Catholic Church has traditionally taught that there are legitimate uses of capital punishment but that Pope Francis recently declared it inadmissible and that the Church should work to abolish it. 32% said they were aware that the Church had a teaching on the death penalty but were unaware of the specifics; 31% were unaware that the Church had any teaching on it.
  • 45% felt that Christian owners of wedding-related business, such as catering halls, bakeries or photographic services, should, based on their religious convictions, have the right to refuse to offer such services for a same-sex wedding, while 40% said they should be required to provide services, regardless of their convictions.
  • 55% believed that school facilities such as restrooms, locker rooms and changing rooms should be restricted according to a student’s biological sex at birth, while 30% opined that use of such facilities should be according to one’s “gender identity.”
  • Should religious adoption institutions be required to place children with same-sex couples? 41% said no, while 40% said yes.
  • The Catholic Church should not be required to allow individuals who do not follow the teachings of the Church to work in parochial schools, said 41% of respondents; 36% said the Church should be required to allow them.
  • 55% disagreed with Church teaching that euthanasia — described by the Catechism as putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons — is intrinsically evil, while 45% agreed that it is. An even higher margin — 59% — disagreed that physician-assisted suicide, where a physician makes lethal means available to a patient to be used at a time of the patient’s own choosing, is intrinsically evil, while 41% said that it is intrinsically evil.
  • 81% believed in Hell, and 78% believed in the Devil. 86% said religion was important in their lives. Aside from weddings and funerals, 35% of respondents said they attend Mass at least weekly; 42% monthly to yearly, and 23% less than yearly or never. 49% said they pray daily.

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