Marist poll shows most Americans favor increasing abortion restrictions

Today is the 41st anniversary of Roe v Wade, and we’ll have stories about the March for Life in Washington DC today that protests that Supreme Court decision every year. We’ll also have coverage of other aspects of the abortion issue, such as the status of public opinion on abortion. The Catholic service group Knights of Columbus regularly commissions polls through Marist (which also conducts media polls on national and state levels) on this topic each year at the same time. This year’s survey shows that an overwhelming number of Americans oppose unrestricted abortion on demand — and that attitudes haven’t changed much over the years, either (via Kathryn Jean Lopez at The Corner):


A new survey of Americans finds strong support for abortion restrictions – including among those who identify as “strongly pro-choice.” Eighty-four percent of Americans would limit abortion to, at most, the first three months of pregnancy, with 58 percent of strongly pro-choice Americans supporting such limits.

The Knights of Columbus/Marist Poll also found that almost three-quarters of Americans (74 percent) favor a ban on abortions after 20 weeks except to save the life of the mother, a majority of Americans (53 percent) believe life begins at conception, and more than 6 in 10 (62 percent) think abortion is morally wrong.

More than 8 in 10 Americans (84 percent) do not see the abortion debate as an all or nothing proposition, saying that laws can protect both the well-being of a woman and the life of the unborn.

Other key findings of the survey include:

•  80 percent support parental notification before a minor can obtain an abortion.
•  79 percent support a 24-hour waiting period prior to having an abortion.
•  76 percent oppose allowing abortions to be performed by non-doctors.
•  62 percent want to change laws to allow for some restrictions on abortion.
•  58 percent support showing a woman an ultrasound image of her baby at least a day before an abortion.
•  57 percent believe abortion does a woman more harm than good in the long run.
•  55 percent — including 6 in 10 Millennials (adults 18 to 32) — want continued debate on the abortion issue.

On a related note, the survey also found that more than 7 in 10 Americans (71 percent) also believe that freedom of religion should be protected above government laws.


The full data can be found in this slideshow presentation from Marist. This slide in particular shows that attitudes over the last five years look statistically stagnant:


It shows something else, too, that the KofC missed. Marist/KofC highlights the responses that include restrictions, which shows that unrestricted abortion on demand is still an extreme position. However, even if we push #3 out of the subgroup highlighted, we get a solid majority supporting the mainstream conservative position (although not the Christian religious position) on abortion — only permissible in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. That gets 56%, compared to 44% for elective abortion at any time. That’s a bit of a buried lead in the poll results.

What is the option, then? Grazie Pozo Christie, a medical doctor with the Catholic Association, wrote movingly this week about her experience with adoption, and how it opened her eyes:

My passion came to me when I fell in love with my youngest daughter. My husband and I both have adopted siblings, and after having four biological children, we decided to adopt our fifth. We had so much to give, and we knew there were so many children in the world who lacked the most important thing of all: a mother and father to love them. Purely because of convenience and ease, we decided to adopt from China. A few months later I traveled there and met our daughter, Lourdes. She was abandoned on a dirty sidewalk at around three days old, and taken to an orphanage full of other little girls. I met her when she was 10 months old.

I knew when I went there what my new daughter’s likely history was: in a country where only one child is allowed per family, she was probably an unexpected second pregnancy, or perhaps a first, disappointing female child. In a culture where only a son will make himself responsible for the welfare of his aging parents, having just a daughter is a tragedy. The result of the conjunction of the law and the culture is a deeply unwanted, unvalued baby. And a dangerous baby, sometimes. Perhaps her mother and father were heroes, who had braved the population police to give birth to her, at home, avoiding a forced abortion and a back-breaking fine. All these things I knew, going there, but they were only abstractions to me, things I had read in a brochure or an article.

Then I fell in love. The downy softness of her hair against my cheek became thrilling to me, and the little white tooth that just broke through the gum was a priceless pearl in my eyes. Her giggles stopped my heart with joy, and her toddling steps charmed me. When she called me Mami for the first time I wept with happiness. This little bit of humanity, so deeply unwanted, discarded and worthless, I learned was infinitely beautiful, infinitely valuable. The process of learning this, the process of falling in love with my daughter, was the prettiest thing that has ever happened to me. Somehow, miraculously, she had come through unimaginable dangers and been given to me to cherish. Has anyone, ever, received such a priceless gift?

It soon occurred to me with tremendous force that every child is like that: infinitely valuable and beautiful, no matter how unwanted and inconvenient. From that heart-stopping realization to making those signs and trudging in the snow in Washington it was just a short step. I looked around our country and realized that our culture had erected a temple to self-realization and sexual liberation, and therefore abortion hasto be available, because unwanted children will continue to be conceived, no matter how many “free” contraceptives are provided. Nothing restricts personal liberty like a pregnancy and parenthood. As a doctor I can tell you that no scientist questions the fact that a zygote, embryo, fetus and infant are all human beings in different stages of development. Those who believe in unrestricted abortion license do not acknowledge the conflicting right of the little human being, who might be unwanted, but is just as valuable and beautiful as a wanted child.


That’s what is at stake. Fifty-five million children have been killed and discarded over the last 41 years. It’s time to bring that to an end.

Update: In case some are skeptical of the KofC connection, here’s the CNN poll results from May of last year:

In that poll, only 36% thought abortion should be legal in most or all circumstances.

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