Attitudes about abortion: 39 years of polling

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Anti-abortion and pro-choice demonstrators argue in front of the Supreme Court during the March for Life Jan. 24, 2011, in Washington.

Article Highlights

  • Americans are pro-life and pro-choice all at once

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  • How have public attitudes changed on #abortion since Roe v. Wade? AEI takes a look at 39 years of polls

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  • Although opinion about #abortion is stable, it is also deeply ambivalent

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Attitudes about Abortion: 39 years of polling

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In the thirty-nine years since the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, pollsters have asked hundreds of questions about abortion. This AEI Public Opinion Study brings many of those questions together in one place. It shows how different pollsters have approached the subject. The study finds that opinions on abortion have been stable. But attitudes are also deeply ambivalent. Americans are at once pro-life and pro-choice.

This comprehensive public opinion study tackles the issue from a variety of angles. The documents main sections explore questions on abortion as murder, women’s choice, the circumstances under which should abortion be allowed, what restrictions should be placed on abortions, the merits of a constitutional amendment, abortion as an election issue, and questions on whether Americans are pro-life or pro-choice. 

Karlyn Bowman is a senior fellow and Andrew Rugg is a research assistant at AEI

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