A strong majority of Americans believe that most abortions should be legal during the first three months of a woman’s pregnancy, but most say the procedure should be illegal in the second and third trimesters. , according to a new survey.
The poll comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case related to a currently blocked Mississippi law that would ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, two weeks from now. second term. If the high court upholds the law, it would be the first time since the Roe v. Wade of 1973 confirming the right of a woman to abortion that a state would be allowed to ban abortions before a fetus can survive outside the womb.
The new survey of The Associated Press-Center NORC for research in public affairs finds that 61% of Americans say abortion should be legal in most or all circumstances during the first trimester of pregnancy. However, 65% said abortion should usually be illegal during the second trimester and 80% said about the third trimester.
Still, the survey leads many Americans to believe that the procedure should be allowed in at least some circumstances, even during the second or third trimester. In the case of abortions during the second trimester, 34% say it should be legal or always legal and another 30% say it should be illegal in most cases, but not all. In the third quarter, 19% believe most or all abortions should be legal and another 26% say it should only be illegal in most cases.
Michael New, an opponent of abortion who teaches social research at Catholic University of America, predicted that the conclusions about second- and third-quarter abortions will be helpful to the anti-abortion movement.
“This helps counteract the narrative that the outcome of the abortion policy established by the Roe v. Wade decision enjoys significant public support,” she said.
David O’Steen, executive director of the National Committee on the Right to Life, said the findings suggest that abortion rights advocates are “a way out of the public eye” to the point that they support the access to abortion even at the end of pregnancy.
But Dr. Daniel Grossman, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco, who supports abortion rights, cited research that shows Americans saw second-quarter abortions. more empathetically when they were informed of some of the reasons women seek them out.
These include time-consuming difficulties in making arrangements with an abortion clinic and learning during the second trimester that the fetus would die or have severe disabilities due to abnormalities, Grossman said.
“More work needs to be done to raise the voice of people who have had abortions and want to share their stories to help people understand the many reasons why this medical care is so needed,” he said in an email.
Most Americans, both Republicans and Democrats, think that pregnant woman she should be able to get a legal abortion if her life is in serious danger, if the pregnancy is a consequence of rape or incest, or if the child would be born with a life-threatening illness.
Americans are closely divided on whether a pregnant woman should be able to get a legal abortion if she wants one for any reason, 49% yes to 50% no.
Jenny Ma, a senior staff lawyer at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said women seeking second-trimester abortions include a disproportionately high number of young people, black women, and women living in poverty. Some had not learned that they were pregnant until much later than normal; others had trouble raising the funds needed to allow the abortion, Ma said.
He noted that Republican-ruled states have enacted numerous restrictions in recent years that often complicated the process to get even a first-trimester abortion.
“Removing the many existing barriers to care for previous abortion would reduce the need for second- and third-trimester abortions,” Ma said.
Abortions after the first trimester are not uncommon, but they are exceptions to the norm. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in its most recent report on abortion in the United States, estimated that 92% of abortions in 2018 were performed during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy.
The poll also shows how opinions on abortion differ sharply along the party line. About three-quarters of Democrats believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases; about two-thirds of Republicans think it should be illegal in all or most cases.
But most Americans are among extreme opinions on the subject. Only 23% say abortion in general should be legal in all cases, while 33% say it should be legal in most cases. Thirty percent say abortion should be illegal in most cases; only 13% say it should be illegal in all cases.
Respondents from three major religious groups — white mainstream Protestants, non-white Protestants, and Catholics — are very divided as to whether abortion should be legal or illegal in most cases. It was different for white evangelicals; about three-quarters say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.
Dave Steiner, manager of a hotel on the outskirts of Chicago, was one of those who responded to the AP-NORC survey that said abortion should be legal during the first trimester, but generally illegal afterwards. .
“I was raised a very strict Catholic: abortion was no, no, no,” said Steiner, 67. “As I became more liberal and democratic, I felt that women should have the right to choose, but that should be the first quarter. “
“Anyway, abortions will occur,” he added. “If you make it illegal, just chase it underground.”
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