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ABORTION ACCESS:

U.S. public opinion polls: Year 2001

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Average ABC News poll data: 1995 to 2001:

ABC News conducts an annual poll asking American adults whether they support or oppose access by women to legal abortion. They report that:

bullet"Support for legal abortion has moved within an eight-point band since this question was first asked in July 1995, from 60 percent to 52 percent, with no clear pattern."
bullet"Opposition has ranged from 36 percent to 43 percent."
bullet"Averaging can help provide clarity: Support for legal abortion has averaged 56 percent in a dozen polls the last five years; opposition, 41 percent." 1

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ABC News - Washington Post poll: 2001-JAN:

A BBC News report for 2001-JAN-23 summarized what it called a "new" ABC News - Washington Post poll of American adults which "suggests that most Americans are broadly supportive of current abortion laws."

bullet59% said abortion should be legal in all or most cases
bullet14% said it should be illegal in all cases.
bullet46% of all Republicans said they supported a woman's right to choose an abortion in most cases. 2

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ABC News poll of 2001-JUN:

The poll was conducted between JUN-20 and JUN-24. It has a margin of error of 3 percentage points. 1

As with all previous polls, this one shows a split among the American public:

bullet52% feel that abortion should be legal in all or most cases;
bullet43% say it should be illegal in all or most cases.

 
bullet63% of born-again or evangelical Protestants oppose abortion access.
bullet66% of other white Protestants support abortion access.

The main factor that determines their belief:

Among those who oppose abortion access, 50% base their belief mainly on religious influences.

Factor Support access Oppose access All adults
Religious beliefs 9% 50% 27%
Personal beliefs 35 19 28
Education 22 9 16
Personal experience 10 8  
News sources 8 3  
Family and friends 4 4  
Other 13 6  

Variation with religious belief:

As noted above, there is a major gulf between Evangelical and mainline/liberal Protestants. In spite of their church's strong stance against abortion, Catholics seem to be indistinguishable from the rest of the population.

Group Abortions should be all or mostly legal Abortions should be all or mostly illegal
All adults 52% 43%
Evangelical white Protestants 34 63
Catholics 55 43
Non-Evangelical white Protestants 66 33

Political ideology:

As expected, self-identified liberals are far more supportive of abortion access than are conservatives:

Group Abortions should be all or mostly legal Abortions should be all or mostly illegal
Liberal 75% 23%
Moderates 57% 39%
Conservatives 34% 63%

Party affiliation:

As expected, Democrats and Independents are far more supportive of abortion access than are Republicans:

Party Abortions should be all or mostly legal Abortions should be all or mostly illegal
Democrats 59% 37%
Independents 59 36
Republicans 40 58

Additional differences were found. Older persons, people with less education, persons with lower income and African-Americans were more inclined to criminalize most or all abortions.

There's a range of opinion within the categories of support or opposition for legal abortion. About a fifth of Americans take each of the more extreme views — that abortion should be legal in all cases, or illegal in all cases. Just under a quarter say it should be illegal in most cases, but not all. And 31 percent say it should be legal in most cases. Evangelical white Protestants are among the groups most likely to say abortion should be illegal in all cases; 35 percent of them take that view. Again, though, this means that even among evangelicals, nearly two-thirds reject a complete ban on all abortions. About half as many Catholics, 19 percent, support making abortion illegal in all cases, as do 11 percent of non-evangelical white Protestants.

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Barna Research Group poll of 2001:

Barna Research is an Evangelical Christian polling group. They interviewed 1003 American adults during 2001-MAY, producing a poll with a margin of error of 3%. Results were:

bullet18% believe that abortion should be legal in all cases.
bullet24% believe that it should generally be legal, with a few exceptions.
bullet32% said it should be illegal in all but a few special circumstances.
bullet23% said it should be illegal under all circumstances, including abortions necessary to save the life of the woman.
bulletAmong born-again Christians, only 9% wish that all abortions are legal; 14% said that they should be generally legal, and 73% wish that abortions were all or almost all illegal. Among Evangelical Christians, the corresponding numbers were 1%, 4%, and 94%. 3

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2001-OCT: Center for Gender Equality poll:

The Princeton Survey Research Associates conducted this poll. They found that "Women's opinions on the issue of abortion itself are sharply divided, and entrenched:" 4

Stand

Percentage

Abortion access should be unlimited 34%
Abortion access should be restricted 45%
No response 21%

Support for abortion on request varies significantly with educational level. Only 22% of women who did not complete high school favored freely available abortions, whereas 49% of college graduates favored this option.

Of those who want abortion access restricted in some way:

Stand

Percentage

Restricted to rape, incest, or prevent the death of the woman 31%
Not permitted under any circumstances, even to save the woman's life 14%
Some limits on when an abortion can be performed, or minor impediments before she can have an abortion 19%

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References:

  1. Gary Langer, "Support for Legal Abortion Wobbles: Religion Informs Much Opposition," ABC News, at: http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/poll010702.html
  2. "EU condemns Bush abortion move," BBC News, 2001-JAN-23, at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/1132127.stm
  3. "Born-again Christian oppose abortion, homosexuality, poll shows," Associated Baptist Press, at: http://www.abpnews.com/abpnews/
  4. "Progress and Perils: How gender issues unite and divide women, Part One," Center for Gender Equality, at: http://www.advancewomen.org/ You may need software to read these files. It can be obtained free from:

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Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" religious topics > Abortion > Polls > here

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Copyright © 2001 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2006-NOV-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

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