Public opinion polling can be discouraging for pro-life individuals. We recognize the human life in the womb as a person worthy of protecting and yet polls show many of our fellow Americans feel differently.
In 2015, Gallup found that 50% of Americans called themselves pro-choice, compared with 44% who said they were pro-life. Yet when you examine many of the specifics, pro-life Americans can find much with which to be pleased.
1. Only 29% of Americans want abortion legal under all circumstances.
Gallup did not define “pro-choice” or “pro-life” to respondents, but they did ask a separate question about when abortion should be legal. Less than 3 in 10 believe the U.S. should have abortion on demand at any time.
2. 55% believe abortion should be illegal completely or only in a few circumstances.
According to the same Gallup poll, more than half of Americans say that abortion should be illegal in most circumstances—36% legal in only a few, 19% illegal in all circumstances.
3. 73% of Americans believe abortion should have legal restrictions.
Pew Research found, similarly to Gallup, that 23% of Americans say abortion should be legal in all cases. That leaves almost 3 out of 4 Americans who believe there are some instances where abortion should be illegal—34% legal in most, 24% illegal in most, 15% illegal in all.
4. There is no gender gap on abortion.
Despite the claim by many abortion advocates that men are the only ones supportive of restrictions, 40% of women and 39% of men favor making abortion illegal in all or most circumstances, according to Pew.
5. 61% of pro-life Americans hold their beliefs strongly.
Marist found more passion and strength on the pro-life side. While 61% of pro-lifers say they strongly support pro-life, 52% of pro-choice individuals say the same about their position.
6. 74% of Americans want significant restrictions on abortion.
This may sound as if it contradicts the earlier numbers, but Marist asked Americans about specifics and found broad support for restrictions: 10% say abortion should never be permitted, 12% say only to save the life of the mother, 30% say only in cases of rape, incest, or to save the mother, and 22% say only during the first three months of pregnancy.
7. 54% of pro-choice Americans support significant restrictions.
Even among those calling themselves pro-choice, most supported one of those restrictions, according to Marist. Only 26% of pro-choice Americans said abortion should be available to a woman during her entire pregnancy.
8. Support for significant restrictions stretches across party lines.
Marist found majorities of both parties and independents fall into one of the significant restriction categories: 90% of Republicans, 72% of Independents and 58% of Democrats.
Looking at this past election, 91% of Donald Trump supporters back significant restrictions and even 55% of Hillary Clinton supporters back them.
9. Support for significant restrictions is racially diverse.
Almost 8 in 10 Latinos and African-Americans (79% for both) say their position most closely resembles one of the four major restriction categories, according to the Marist poll. Slightly more than 7 in 10 white Americans (71%) say the same.
10. Majorities oppose abortion funding at home and abroad.
More than 8 in 10 Americans (83%) in the Marist poll oppose using tax dollars to support abortion internationally and 61% oppose using it to pay for women’s abortions here.
Even among the pro-choice and Clinton supporters, there is strong sentiment against using taxpayer dollars to fund abortions in the U.S.—40% of pro-choice oppose or strongly oppose, 39% of Clinton supporters are the same.
11. Half of Americans say abortion does more harm than good.
While 50% say having an abortion does more harm than good to a woman, only 31% say it improves a woman’s life, according to Marist.
Even 25% of pro-choice individuals and 30% of Clinton supporters say an abortion does more harm than good to a woman.
12. 78% believe laws can support women and the unborn.
Marist found a large majority does not see a conflict between protecting mothers and their unborn children. Almost 8 in 10 say it is possible to have laws which protect both the health and well-being of a woman and the life of the unborn.
Only 15% say the law must choose one to protect.
13. 59% say abortion is morally wrong.
Almost 6 in 10 Americans say abortion is morally wrong, according to Marist, including 31% of people who identify as pro-choice.
14. 59% of Americans support banning abortions after 20 weeks.
This is significant because this is an area where the U.S. is a global outlier. We are one of only seven countries in the world that allow elective abortion after 20 weeks. Almost 6 in 10 Americans want to change that fact, according to Marist.
This includes 39% of pro-choice individuals and 45% of Democrats.
15. Around 6 in 10 want protections for medical professionals and businesses.
Marist found 59% of Americans said medical professionals should not be required to perform abortions and businesses should not be required to cover them with their insurance.
These statistics give a much different picture than we often hear, but they also reveal how much work is left to be done.
That won’t happen strictly through laws and the overturning of Roe v. Wade (though that is part of the process), but primarily through helping other everyday Americans recognize the humanity of the unborn.
That will take significant effort and time, as it did with William Wilberforce and the British slave trade.
Be encouraged that things may not be as bad as you thought, but use that encouragement to be strengthened for the long struggle that is in front of us.