Most US adults, including those living in states with the strictest limits on abortion, want it to be legal at least during the early stages of pregnancy, according to a new survey by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
The poll was conducted in late June, a year after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, nullifying a national abortion right that had been in place for nearly 50 years.
Although laws have changed in the last year, the poll found that views on abortion remain much the same as they were a year ago: complex, with most people believing abortion should be allowed in some circumstances and not in others. Overall, about two-thirds of Americans say abortion should generally be legal, but only about one-quarter say it should always be legal, and only about 1 in 10 say it should always be illegal.
At 24 weeks pregnant, most Americans think their state shouldn’t generally allow abortions.
This is true for 34-year-old Jaleesha Thomas of Chicago. “I’d rather the person abort the baby than hurt him or throw him out or whatever,” she said in an interview. But she said that at about 20 weeks into the pregnancy, she thinks abortion usually shouldn’t be an option. “When they’re fully developed and the mother doesn’t have any disease or anything that could cause the baby or her to die, it’s like you’re killing another human being.”
Thomas’ condition allows abortions until the fetus is viable, generally considered to be around 24 weeks, and has become a destination for people from nearby Kentucky, Missouri, Wisconsin and other places with travel bans for abortions.
The survey finds that 1 in 10 Americans say they know someone who was unable to get an abortion or had to travel to get one in the past year, since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade — and that this is especially common among young people, people of color, and those who live in states where abortion is banned in all stages of pregnancy.
Nearly half of the states now allow abortions up to 20-27 weeks, but in most cases they ban it beyond that. Before Roe’s fall, nearly every state fell within that range. Now abortion is banned — with several exceptions — in all stages of pregnancy in 14 states, including much of the South.
The poll found that 73 percent of all U.S. adults, including 58 percent of those in states with the strictest bans, believe abortions should be permitted at six weeks into a pregnancy. Only one state currently has a ban in effect that goes into effect at that time. This is Georgia, where abortion is banned once heart activity is detected, about six weeks and before women often know they are pregnant. Ohio and South Carolina have similar bans that aren’t being enforced due to lawsuits, and Florida has one that hasn’t taken effect.
About half of Americans say abortions should be allowed after 15 weeks, even though 55 percent of those living in the most restrictive states say abortions should be banned by that point.
And within 24 weeks, about two-thirds of Americans, including those living in states with the fewest restrictions, say it should be banned.
While most GOP-controlled state governments have pushed for further restrictions on abortion, the survey finds there isn’t always support for doing so. Nationwide, about 4 in 10 people said it was too difficult to access abortion in their community, compared with about a quarter who think it’s too easy.
Robert Green, an 89-year-old politically independent rancher in Wyoming where a judge suspended a ban on abortion during pregnancy, said he has supported abortion rights since before the Roe v. decision. Wade from 1973. “There are many reasons,” he said. “Not least the people who don’t want kids and go ahead and have them — kids usually suffer from it.”
People in states with the strictest bans were slightly more likely to say abortion was too difficult to access than those living in the least restrictive states. Overall, about half of Democrats say it’s too hard, compared with 22% of Republicans.
And women were more likely to say access was too challenging in their area. For both Republicans and Democrats, there wasn’t much of a gender gap on the subject: About half of Democratic men and women found it too challenging, and about 2 in 10 GOP men and women did. But nearly half of independent women felt so, compared with about a third of independent men.