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Gallup: U.S. Adults’ Views on Abortion Remain Stable

Half of U.S. adults say abortion should be legal only in certain circumstances, a Gallup survey found.

Affirmation of this view was at 57 percent in 2009, before declining to 50 percent in 2012. It has remained stable since then.

Other perspectives remained largely unchanged.

Those saying abortion should be legal under any circumstances remained at 29 percent, while those asserting abortion should be illegal in all circumstances saw a 1-point drop to 18 percent.

“The dispersion of abortion views today … is broadly similar to what Gallup has found in four decades of measurement,” the report noted.

There was a 4-point increase (to 49 percent) of those saying abortion is morally wrong. This reversed a nine-year downward trend from a high in 2009 when 56 percent of respondents affirmed this view.

Adults affirming abortion as morally acceptable remained stable at 43 percent. Those aligning with the perspective had increased from a low of 36 percent in 2009 to a high of 45 percent in 2015, before falling to 43 percent in 2016.

Even though more say abortion is morally wrong than say it is morally acceptable, pro-choice affirmation (49 percent) has a slight edge on pro-life affirmation (46 percent).

Political affiliation continued to influence perspectives.

Democrats saw a high of 71 percent affirmation of the “pro-choice” position, continuing an upward trend since 2012 (when “pro-choice” views declined to 59 percent from the previous high of 68 percent in 2011).

Independents identifying as “pro-choice” declined slightly to 44 percent (continuing a two-year downward trend), while Republicans saw an uptick in “pro-choice” identification from 22 percent in 2016 to 35 percent in 2017.

“There is no consensus among the American public for making abortion completely legal or illegal. Rather, the largest segment falls in the middle, saying it should be legal but with restrictions,” Gallup summarized. “For most Americans, the issue involves shades of gray, not black and white.”

The full report is available here.