Roe v. Wade at 40: Attitudes about abortion
AEI Public Opinion Study, January 2013

Reuters

Abortion rights demonstrators arrive to counter-protest against the March for Life on the 39th anniversary of the Roe vs Wade decision, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, January 23, 2012.

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• Opinion on abortion has been very stable. In 1975, 21 percent said abortion should be legal under all circumstances, 54 percent legal only under certain circumstances, and 22 percent illegal in all circumstances. Those responses in Gallup’s May 2012 poll were very similar: 25, 52, and 20 percent, respectively. 

• Americans, as a whole, do not want to outlaw abortion. At the same time, they are willing to put restrictions on it. Large majorities favor 24-hour waiting periods, parental consent, a law requiring doctors to tell people about alternatives to abortion, and spousal notification. 

• In most polls, 60 percent or more say they do not want to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.

• In a 2012 Gallup question, 17 percent said they would vote only for a candidate who shared their view on abortion, while 45 percent said that a candidate’s position on abortion would be just one of many important factors when voting and 34 percent did not see abortion as a major issue for them.

• The September 2012 Gallup question shows that 47 percent consider themselves pro-choice and 46 percent pro-life.

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