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Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

January 16, 2013

Public Opinion on Abortion Slideshow

Views on Abortion, 1995-2013

Slightly more than half of the U.S. public (54%) thinks abortion should be legal in all or most cases, a level that has held fairly stable since the mid-1990s (hovering around 50% on the low end, and reaching no higher than 60%).

Four-in-ten Americans say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, a level that also has been fairly stable since the mid-1990s.

Current Breakdown of Views, 2012-2013

Most Americans do not take a hard-line position on this issue. More than half say that abortion either should be legal in most cases (32%) or should be illegal in most cases (24%). Fewer say that abortion should be legal (22%) or illegal (15%) in all cases.

Views by Religious Affiliation, 2011-201

Six-in-ten or more white evangelical Protestants and Mormons think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, as do about half (52%) of Hispanic Catholics.

By contrast, nearly nine-in-ten Jews say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do about seven-in-ten Americans with no religious affiliation and 63% of white mainline Protestants. Among both black Protestants and white Catholics, about half say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Views by Party Identification, 2012-2013

Most Republicans (59%) say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. By contrast, most Democrats (69%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Among independents, 56% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Views by Gender, 2012-2013

Slim majorities of both women (55%) and men (53%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Views by Age, 2012-2013

Among adults under age 30, 57% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, the same as among adults in their 30s and 40s (57%) and similar to those in their 50s and early 60s (55%).

Americans 65 and older are somewhat less supportive of legal abortion. Equal portions say abortion should be legal in all or most cases (45%) and illegal in all or most cases (45%).

Views by Level of Education, 2012-2013

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of college graduates say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do 57% of those with some college education.

Opinion is more evenly divided among those with a high school degree or less (46% legal in all or most cases vs. 47% illegal in all or most cases).

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