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Most Americans believe unborn children have rights, poll shows

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John Burger - published on 06/22/22 - updated on 06/22/22

Survey suggests that Americans are more pro-life than one might be led to believe from media reports.

Most Americans believe that a fetus becomes a person at the moment of conception, a national survey has found. 

As the United States braces for a Supreme Court ruling that might overturn Roe v. Wade – and unleash a wave of anger among pro-choice Americans – the survey suggests that Americans are more pro-life than one might be led to believe from media reports.

Commissioned by the pro-life advocacy organization Americans United for Life and conducted by YouGov, the survey found that 31% of respondents believe that a fetus is a human person from the moment of conception. Twenty-four percent believe that status is attained when the unborn baby develops a heartbeat (3-8 weeks gestation); 10% when a brain develops; 21% when a baby is capable of living outside the womb (viability – about 24 weeks), and 14% at the time of birth.

The survey polled 1,000 American adults about their attitudes toward abortion, personhood, and legal rights. It was conducted May 6-13, 2022 in the wake of the leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Five of the court’s justices voted to uphold a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks and to strike down Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, thereby returning the decision on abortion’s legality and regulation to each state’s legislative process. 

Though the final outcome of the ruling is not certain, the prospect of it overturning Roe has apparently led some pro-abortion activists and groups to call for vandalizing churches and pro-life pregnancy resource centers. A man was arrested outside the home of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, allegedly prepared to carry out an assassination of the justice. And groups have called for “days of rage” in case the court does in fact overturn Roe.

The right to be born

And yet, the AUL survey discovered that Americans believe that unborn children deserve to have a number of different rights:

  • 80% of Americans support rights for unborn children to be born
  • 89% support rights for unborn children to be protected from violence or assault
  • 51% believe that abortion ends the life of a human before birth
  • 52% support the Supreme Court extending legal rights of personhood to unborn children
  • 44% support state lawmakers having the power to prohibit abortion of an unborn child

What was notable about the survey was that 39% of respondents identified themselves as “pro-choice.” Thirty-two percent said they were pro-life, while 29% identified as neither.

“We see powerfully through our latest AUL/YouGov national survey how intuitively supportive Americans are of the human right to life and legal rights for children prior to birth,” said Catherine Glenn Foster, President & CEO of Americans United for Life. “We also see the tension between Americans’ convictions and the role of law in shaping culture. We must work together to give our beliefs a voice in the law, which exists to ensure justice and equal protection for all members of the human family.”

Foster said that, assuming Roe v. Wade falls, Americans “will rely on our executive, judicial, and legislative leaders to clarify and uphold the human right to life in practice. As crucial as the encouragement of public opinion is for the human right to life, what will most be needed post-Roe are brave and courageous political leaders who are willing to act to restore the human right to life in its fullness and to protect it for all time to come.”

Tags:
AbortionPro-life
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