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New poll suggests most Americans favor restrictions on abortion


Crystal Light/Shutterstock

John Burger - published on 01/27/21 - updated on 01/27/21

Knights of Columbus hope that Marist Poll makes it easier to find bipartisan support for pro-life policy.

Although the subject of abortion is widely assumed to be a divisive one politically, there seems to be growing consensus on at least some aspects of the issue, according to a new survey commissioned by the Knights of Columbus.

Most Americans favor restrictions on abortion within the United States, for example. And an increasing proportion of Americans oppose tax dollars going to support abortions at home and abroad. 

The survey was conducted by telephone January 11-13 by Marist Poll and was released Wednesday. The two organizations have collaborated since 2008 in monitoring Americans’ positions on abortion. 

“While the number of people who identify as ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ tends to fluctuate with the public debate, when given a broader choice of policy options, there is a strong consensus among Americans on abortion,” Barbara Carvalho, director of the Marist Poll, said in a statement. Survey results reveal support for abortion restrictions and an aversion for use of taxpayer funding for abortions abroad.”

“Amidst the harsh political divides in our country, clear bipartisan majorities support abortion restrictions and do not want their tax dollars paying for abortion abroad,” Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, said in a statement. “Our polling has shown consistently over the past decade that policies that promote abortion on demand paid for by taxpayers are divisive and out of step with American public opinion. 

“The American people show consensus and restraint on this issue, and we hope that our elected officials and policy makers will heed this call for unity when there is far too much that divides us in our politics today,” said Anderson. 

The new Biden-Harris Administration is expected to revoke the so-called Mexico City Policy, which blocks U.S. federal funding for non-governmental organizations that provide abortion counseling or referrals, advocate to decriminalize abortion, or expand abortion services. The policy has been a political football for decades, reinstated by Republican Administrations and revoked by Democratic ones. 

There also has been talk that the new administration will move to eliminate the Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortion except to save the life of the mother or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape.

Other findings in the Knights/Marist Poll include:

  • More than three-quarters of Americans (76%), including a majority who identify as pro-choice, want significant restrictions on abortion. Since Marist last asked the question in August, there has been about an 11% increase in the numbers of Americans who favor significant restrictions.
  • 77% of those polled either “oppose” or “strongly oppose” using tax dollars to support international abortion. This is up from 75% who answered similarly each of the past two years, including 55% of Democrats, 95% of Republicans, and 85% of Independents. 
  • Only 19% of Americans either “support” or “strongly support” funding abortions outside the US, while another 4% are unsure.
  • Even among those who identify as “pro-choice” in the current poll, over six in 10 (64%) say they are opposed to using tax dollars to support abortion in other countries.
  • A majority of Americans (58%) oppose using taxpayer money to fund abortions within the United States, including 31% of Democrats, 83% of Republicans, and 65% of Independents.

The Future of Roe

Another area where there is significant consensus is opposition to aborting children with Down Syndrome. Overall, 70% of Americans oppose such abortions, including 56% of those identifying as “pro-choice,” and 59% of Democrats. 

Even more striking are the answers to the question of whether the law can protect both the health and well-being of a woman and the life of the unborn. Eighty percent of Americans overall agree with that position, including a surprising 77%  of Americans identifying as pro-choice. 

Concerning the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, the poll found 48% of Americans believing that the court should send the question back to the states, who could legislate their own restrictions. Thirty-one percent believe abortion should be legal without any restrictions at any time, and 17% feel that the procedure should just be illegal. 

“We see some bipartisan consensus and real opportunity here for some unity,” said Tim Saccoccia, the senior policy director of the Knights of Columbus, during a press conference on Wednesday. “For over a decade, we have seen consistent growth of consensus on this issue, where sometimes it may seem that there is actually more division. We think this is important as we look around and we try to find more opportunities to be united with our fellow Americans and to move forward on different areas of policy, and we even speak here on the divisive issue of abortion. There are opportunities for unity, and there are bipartisan majorities that support more pro-life policies than not.”

Read more:
12 Things Pope Francis has said about abortion


Read more:
March for Life radically scaled down for 2021

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