Photo Credit: Time
A new research from Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) called “The State of Abortion and
Contraception Attitudes in All 50 States” shows that a majority (54%) of Americans believe that abortion
should be legal in all (23%) or most (31%) cases, while four in ten (40%) believe that abortion should be
illegal in most (25%) or all (15%) cases.
The report, released Tuesday (August 13, 2019) by PRRI, shows that in five states, at least 20% of the
population believes abortion should be legal in all cases: Louisiana (23%), Mississippi (22%), Arkansas
(21%), Tennessee (21%), Nebraska (21%), North Dakota (20%) and Kentucky (20%).
Even in Alabama and Missouri, where new laws have been passed to make abortion illegal with
practically no exceptions, fewer than a fifth of the population says abortion should be illegal all the time.
In Alabama just 16% opposes abortion at all times, while 19% of Missourians hold that position. The
anti-abortion laws are facing court challenges in both states.
“These results demonstrate that the Republican-controlled legislatures who have passed state laws that
amount to a virtual ban on abortion are out of touch not just with Americans overall but with residents
of their own states and members of their own party,” said PRRI CEO and founder Robert P. Jones in an
announcement of the survey results. “Few Americans, even in the most conservative states in the
country, believe that abortion should be banned outright,” he continued.
Different partisan affiliations show significantly different views on abortion. The partisan gap has
increased from 28 percentage points in 2014 to 36 points today. Democrats (70%) are twice as likely as
Republicans (34%) to favor the legality of abortion. Six in ten (60%) Republicans are opposed to the
legality of abortion, although notably, only 22% of Republicans say abortion should be illegal in all cases.
Among religious groups, opposition to the legality of abortion is largely confined to white evangelical
Protestants and other smaller conservative Christian groups. Strong majorities of Hispanic Protestants
(58%), white evangelical Protestants (65%), Mormons (66%), and Jehovah’s Witnesses (68%) say
abortion should be illegal in most or all cases. Notably, even among white evangelical Protestants, only
one quarter (25%) say abortion should be illegal in all cases.
Catholics are divided (48% support legality in most or all cases vs. 46% oppose legality in most or all
cases), but there are significant differences by race and ethnicity. A majority (52%) of white Catholics,
compared to 41% of Hispanic Catholics, support the legality of abortion.