Majority in U.S. still want abortion legal, with limits

“Heartbeat laws,” which have been enacted in six states thus far in 2019, along with even more restrictive policies in three others, are putting abortion back in the forefront of national discussion and encouraging both sides to gear up for an anticipated legal battle at the Supreme Court.

Even as 60% of Americans say abortion should either not be legal at all or only legal in a few circumstances, a majority don’t support laws that would outlaw abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. This was defined in the question as occurring “usually around the sixth week of pregnancy.”

Fifty-eight percent of Americans say they would oppose a ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected while 40% are in favor. Notably, this conforms with Americans’ views on first trimester abortions more generally. According to a May 2018 Gallup survey, 60% think abortion should generally be legal in the first three months of pregnancy while most oppose it in the later months.