US/World

About Half Of Americans Think Abortion Is Morally Wrong: Pew Research Poll

abortion
During a time when abortion providers are being forced to close down more than ever before, a new poll finds that more Americans feel abortion is morally wrong, and very few feel it's acceptable. Creative Commons

As the abortion debate continues to rage on, with both pro-life and pro-choice activists passionately fighting for their sides, a new poll from Pew Research Center finds that very few Americans find abortion morally acceptable, with almost half of a nationally representative sample finding it to be morally wrong. 

The poll surveyed 4,006 adults, ages 18 and older, throughout all 50 states. It found that, with regard to abortion, 49 percent of Americans find having an abortion morally wrong. Only 15 percent said it was morally acceptable, and 23 percent said that it wasn’t a moral issue. White evangelical Protestants were among the most adamant about the immorality of abortions — they also go to church the most often — with 75 percent saying it was morally wrong. They were followed by Hispanic Catholics (64 percent), Black Protestants (58 percent), white Catholics (53 percent), white mainline Protestants (38 percent), and unaffiliated groups (25 percent).

Interestingly, more women than men (50 percent vs. 48 percent) felt that abortion was morally wrong, and when accounting for age, the numbers fell close, with 48 percent of those ages 18 to 49 saying it was morally wrong, compared to 52 percent of those ages 50 and older.

These numbers could help explain the trend in abortion legislation across the U.S. lately. Since 2010, 54 abortion clinics have shut down, with many more facing closure if not for the help of court injunctions, which have blocked legislation that would make it difficult to operate. Many of the closures come from states that have passed laws similar to those in Texas and Arizona, which have imposed stricter limits for abortion providers. For Texas, these include a ban on abortion past 20 weeks, admitting privileges for abortion doctors at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic, and renovating clinics into ambulatory surgical centers, which are essentially mini hospitals.

The poll also looked into Americans’ feelings about embryonic stem cell research and non-embryonic stem cell research, and found that 22 percent and 16 percent felt it was morally wrong, respectively. This indicates that many of those who felt that abortion was morally wrong still felt that using embryos for research was okay. In fact, the majority of those who said that abortion was morally wrong still felt that embryonic stem cell research was morally acceptable (23 percent) or not a moral issue (29 percent).

Granted, an abortion can currently occur up to 24 weeks after conception, long after an embryo is typically destroyed — the cutoff period is 14 days — for research, but many opponents of abortion argue that life begins as early as fertilization. How can many who say abortion is wrong also say that embryonic stem cell research is okay?

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