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Polls show majority of Americans support legal abortion

Pro-life vs pro-choice, female right on abortion concept

Last week, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a near-total ban on abortion.

But polls from just last year show the majority of Americans support access to abortion in some cases, rather than an outright ban on the practice.

Polls from last year show that 48 percent of Americans identify as pro-choice, while 48 percent as pro-life. Among both the pro-choice and pro-life respondents, there were large percentages that supported access to abortion in particular cases.

A poll from September 2018 from the Pew Research Center found 58 percent of Americans believe abortion should always or mostly be legal, compared with 37 percent who believe it should always or mostly be illegal.

A Gallup survey from May 2018 found that 83 percent of respondents believe abortion should be legal in cases where the woman’s life is endangered and that 77 percent of respondents believe abortion should be legal in cases where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. Even among the pro-life respondents, solid majorities believe that abortion should be legal in these cases, with 71 percent for when the mother’s life is in danger and 57 percent for when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

Alabama’s new abortion legislation, House Bill 314 or the “Human Life Protection Act,” bans all abortions in the state except cases where there is a serious health risk to the mother. The law makes it a Class A felony for any doctor to perform an abortion, carrying with it a threat of up to 99 years in prison. The legislation also classifies attempted abortions as a Class C felony.

A 2016 survey from Data for Progress shows that the majority of Alabama residents do not support an outright ban against abortion. In fact, polls from last year from the ALG Research for Planned Parenthood Southeast found that just 31 percent of voters in Alabama support a complete ban on abortion while 65 percent of Alabama voters oppose banning abortion in cases of rape and incest.

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The Data for Progress poll also found that in conservative-leaning subgroups like evangelicals, those who attend church at least once a week and Republicans, most voters support abortion in select cases and a strong majority oppose abortion bans that do not make exceptions in cases of rape and incest.

HB314 is one of several abortion restrictions being implemented by various states that is intended to challenge Roe v. Wade.


Jessa Reid Bolling is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter and graduate of The University of Alabama with a B.A. in journalism and political science.

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