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'Morally Acceptable'? New Gallup Poll Surveys Americans' Views on Abortion

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A record number of Americans find abortion “morally acceptable,” though American sentiment on the matter is sharply divided, a Gallup poll released Wednesday found.

Forty-seven percent of Americans find abortion acceptable, while 46 percent think abortion is wrong from a moral perspective, the poll found.

The percentage of Americans who find abortion acceptable increased two points, the highest level of support Gallup has found since it began tracking the matter two decades ago.

The poll found that 64 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of independent voters have grown more likely to say that abortion is morally acceptable. Twenty-six percent of Republicans find abortion morally acceptable.

American public sentiment is closely split on identifying as pro-life versus pro-choice, the poll found. Forty-nine percent of Americans identify as pro-choice, while 47 percent of Americans identify as pro-life.

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Public sentiment on abortion was more pro-choice between 1995 and 1997, Gallup noted, when 52 percent of Americans identified as pro-choice and 38 percent as pro-life. An average of 47 percent of Americans have said they are pro-choice since 1998, according to Gallup.

Most Democrats have expressed the belief that abortion is morally acceptable every year that Gallup has been polling since 2004, Gallup noted, but no more than 31 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of independents have held that view since 2001.

Gallup polled a random sample of about 1,016 United States adults over the phone between May 3 and May 18 with a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points with a 95 percent level of confidence.

Americans are more divided, however, on specific issues like abortions later in a mother’s pregnancy or taxpayer funding for abortion.

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A January poll conducted by the Knights of Columbus and Marist found that 77 percent of Americans said they were “strongly opposed” to using tax dollars to support abortion in other countries.

Only 19 percent of Americans polled “support” or “strongly support” funding abortions outside the United States, the poll found.

“While the number of people who identify as ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ tends to fluctuate with the public debate, when given a broader choice of policy options, there is a strong consensus among Americans on abortion,” Dr. Barbara Carvalho, director of The Marist Poll, said in a statement at the time.

“Survey results reveal support for abortion restrictions and an aversion for use of taxpayer funding for abortions abroad.”

The United States Supreme Court announced May 17 that it will take up a major Mississippi abortion case that could directly challenge Roe v. Wade.

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The court will hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization beginning in Octoberand a decision on the case will likely come by June 2022, according to CNBC.

This will be the first major abortion case in which all three of former President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court justice appointees participate, including Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who gained a seat on the court after a contentious confirmation process in October.

The case deals with a 2018 Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks, a law challenged by activists on behalf of the last remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi, Jackson Women’s Health Organization. After the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law in December 2019, the state of Mississippi asked the Supreme Court to take up the case.

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