Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

About Follow

Donate

Fact Sheet

August 29, 2019

Public Opinion on Abortion

    Views on abortion, 1995-2019

    As of 2019, public support for legal abortion remains as high as it has been in two decades of polling. Currently, 61% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 38% say it should be illegal in all or most cases.

    Year Legal in all/most cases Illegal in all/most cases
    1995 60% 38%
    1996 57% 40%
    1997 -- --
    1998 54% 42%
    1999 56% 42%
    2000 53% 43%
    2001 54% 43%
    2002 -- --
    2003 57% 42%
    2004 55% 43%
    2005 57% 41%
    2006 51% 43%
    2007 52% 42%
    2008 54% 40%
    2009 47% 44%
    2010 50% 44%
    2011 53% 42%
    2012 54% 39%
    2013 54% 40%
    2014 55% 40%
    2015 51% 43%
    2016 57% 39%
    2017 57% 40%
    2018 58% 37%
    2019 61% 38%

    Pew Research Center


    Views on abortion, 2019: A detailed look

    Though abortion is a divisive issue, more than half of U.S. adults take a non-absolutist position, saying that in most – but not all – cases, abortion should be legal (34%) or illegal (26%). Fewer take the position that in all cases abortion should be either legal (27%) or illegal (12%).

    Abortion should be ... % of U.S. adults
    Legal in all cases 27
    Legal in most cases 34
    Illegal in most cases 26
    Illegal in all cases 12
    DK/Ref 1

    Pew Research Center


    Views on abortion by religious affiliation, 2019

    About three-quarters of white evangelical Protestants (77%) think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

    By contrast, 83% of religiously unaffiliated Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do nearly two-thirds of black Protestants (64%), six-in-ten white mainline Protestants (60%) and a slim majority of Catholics (56%).

    White mainline Protestant60%38%

    Religious Affiliation Legal in all/most cases Illegal in all/most cases
    White evangelical Protestant 20% 77%
    Black Protestant 64% 35%
    Catholic 56% 42%
    Unaffiliated 83% 17%

    Pew Research Center


    Views on abortion by party identification, 2019

    About six-in-ten Republicans and those who lean toward the Republican Party (62%) say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. By contrast, 82% of Democrats and those who lean toward the Democratic Party say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

    Party Identification Legal in all/most cases Illegal in all/most cases
    Republican/lean Rep. 36% 62%
    Democrat/lean Dem. 82% 17%

    Pew Research Center


    Views on abortion by political party and ideology, 2019

    Conservative Republicans and Republican leaners are far more likely to say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases than to say that it should be legal (77% vs. 22%). Among moderate and liberal Republicans, 57% say abortion should be legal, while 41% say it should be illegal.

    The vast majority of liberal Democrats and Democratic leaners support legal abortion (91%), as do three-quarters of conservative and moderate Democrats (75%).

    Political party and ideology Legal in all/most cases Illegal in all/most cases
    Conservative Republican/lean Rep. 22% 77%
    Moderate/liberal Republican/lean Rep. 57% 41%
    Conservative/moderate Democrat/lean Dem. 75% 25%
    Liberal Democrat/lean Dem. 91% 9%

    Pew Research Center

    Views on abortion by gender, 2019

    Men and women express similar views on abortion; 60% of women say it should be legal in all or most cases, as do 61% of men.

    Gender Legal in all/most cases Illegal in all/most cases
    Women 60% 38%
    Men 61% 38%

    Pew Research Center


    Views on abortion by age, 2019

    Among adults under age 30, 70% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do nearly two-thirds of adults in their 30s and 40s (64%). More than half of those in their 50s and early 60s (54%) and those ages 65 and older (55%) say the same.

    Age Legal in all/most cases Illegal in all/most cases
    18-29 70% 29%
    30-49 64% 35%
    50-64 54% 44%
    65+ 55% 43%

    Pew Research Center


    Views on abortion by level of education, 2019

    Seven-in-ten college graduates (70%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do 60% of those with some college education. A slim majority of those with a high school degree or less education share this opinion: 54% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 44% say it should be illegal in all or most cases.

    Level of Education Legal in all/most cases Illegal in all/most cases
    High school or less 54% 44%
    Some college 60% 39%
    College grad or more 70% 30%

    Pew Research Center

    Note: For more information on other religious groups or state-by-state data on views about abortion, see our Religious Landscape Study.
    Source: Survey conducted July 22-Aug. 4, 2019. Trend lines show aggregated data from polls conducted in each year. 2019 data from Pew Research Center’s online American Trends Panel; prior data from telephone surveys. See report for more details on changes in survey mode. Question wording can be found here, and information on the Pew Research Center’s polling methodology can be found here.