Public Opinion on Abortion

There’s been a lot of talk lately about a couple of polls that seem to indicate rising popularity of the “pro-life” self-ascription. John Sides helps us put this in context with some time-series data from the National Election Survey:

There has been some discussion about abortion during recent years. Please tell me which one of these opinions best agrees with your view:

1. By law, abortion should never be permitted.

2. The law should permit abortion only in case of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life is in danger.

3. The law should permit abortion for reasons other than rape, incest, or danger to the woman’s life, but only after the need for the abortion has been established.

4. By law, a woman should always be able to obtain an abortion as a matter of personal choice.


Looks like not much is happening in terms of trends. It continues to be the case that the orthodox conservative position on abortion is extremely unpopular, but that the orthodox liberal position doesn’t command majority support either. At the link you can see data from the General Social Survey that leads to a similar conclusion.