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Fact Sheet

August 29, 2019

Public Opinion on Abortion

    Views on abortion, 1995-2021

    While public support for legal abortion has fluctuated some in two decades of polling, it has remained relatively stable over the past five years. Currently, 59% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 39% 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%
    2020 60% 38%
    2021 59% 39%

    Pew Research Center


    Views on abortion, 2021: 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 (25%) or illegal (13%).

    Abortion should be ... % of U.S. adults
    Legal in all cases 25%
    Legal in most cases 34%
    Illegal in most cases 26%
    Illegal in all cases 13%
    DK/Ref 2%

    Pew Research Center


    Views on abortion by religious affiliation, 2021

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

    By contrast, 82% of religiously unaffiliated Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do 64% of Black Protestants, 63% of White Protestants who are not evangelical, and 55% of Catholics.

    Religious Affiliation Legal in all/most cases Illegal in all/most cases
    White evangelical Protestant 21% 77%
    White Protestant, not evangelical 63% 37%
    Black Protestant 64% 33%
    Catholic 55% 43%
    Unaffiliated 82% 16%

    Pew Research Center

    Views on abortion by party identification, 2021

    About six-in-ten Republicans and those who lean toward the Republican Party (63%) say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. By contrast, 80% 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. 35% 63%
    Democrat/lean Dem. 80% 19%

    Pew Research Center


    Views on abortion by political party and ideology, 2021

    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 (78% vs. 22%). Among moderate and liberal Republicans, 59% say abortion should be legal, while 39% say it should be illegal.

    The vast majority of liberal Democrats and Democratic leaners support legal abortion (89%), as do seven-in-ten conservative and moderate Democrats (72%).

    Political party and ideology Legal in all/most cases Illegal in all/most cases
    Conservative Republican/lean Rep. 22% 78%
    Moderate/liberal Republican/lean Rep. 59% 39%
    Conservative/moderate Democrat/lean Dem. 72% 26%
    Liberal Democrat/lean Dem. 89% 11%

    Pew Research Center

    Views on abortion by gender, 2021

    Majorities of both men and women express support for legal abortion, though women are somewhat more likely than men to hold this view (62% vs. 56%).

    Gender Legal in all/most cases Illegal in all/most cases
    Women 62% 37%
    Men 56% 42%

    Pew Research Center

    Views on abortion by race and ethnicity, 2021

    Majorities of adults across racial and ethnic groups express support for legal abortion. About two-thirds of Asian (68%) and Black adults (67%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do 58% of Hispanic adults and 57% of White adults.

    Race and ethnicity Legal in all/most cases Illegal in all/most cases
    White 57% 42%
    Black 67% 31%
    Hispanic 58% 40%
    Asian 68% 30%

    Pew Research Center

    Views on abortion by age, 2021

    Among adults under age 30, 67% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do  61% of adults in their 30s and 40s. Roughly half of those in their 50s and early 60s express support for legal abortion (53%);  among those ages 65 and older 55% say the same.

     

    Age Legal in all/most cases Illegal in all/most cases
    18-29 67% 31%
    30-49 61% 37%
    50-64 53% 46%
    65+ 55% 43%

    Pew Research Center


    Views on abortion by level of education, 2021

    About two-thirds of college graduates (68%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do 61% of those with some college education. Those with a high school degree or less education are more evenly divided on the question: 50% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 47% 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 50% 47%
    Some college 61% 38%
    College grad or more 68% 31%

    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 April 5-11, 2021. Trend lines show aggregated data from polls conducted in each year. Data from 2019 and later come 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. White, Black and Asian adults include those who report being one race and are not Hispanic. Hispanics are of any race. Asian adults interviewed in English only.