New Poll: 84% of Americans Want Some Restrictions on Abortion

By Emily Ward | January 17, 2019 | 3:25pm EST

( -- A Marist poll released Tuesday, Jan. 15, revealed that the vast majority of Americans support at least some type of restriction on abortion. Also, regardless of whether they self-identify as “pro-life” or “pro-choice,” only 15 percent of American adults actually believe abortion should be available to a woman at any time during her pregnancy.

Nine percent of Americans said abortion access should be limited to the first six months of pregnancy and 27 percent said it should be limited to the first three months – the first trimester.

Twenty-eight percent said abortion should be available only in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother; 10 percent said it should be available only to save the life of the mother; and 10 percent said abortion “should never be permitted under any circumstances.”

Baby in the womb. (YouTube)

Together, these numbers add up to 84 percent of Americans who think abortion should be restricted in at least one way.

The poll also broke down the opinions of pro-life and pro-abortion Americans.

According to the survey, 55 percent of Americans self-identify as “pro-choice” and 38 percent as pro-life, but Americans’ actual policy preferences are more nuanced than those labels might suggest.

In fact, 61 percent of people who self-identified as pro-choice – the majority of pro-choice survey respondents – said they supported a restriction on abortion. And, as Marist Poll Director Barbara Carvalho pointed out, Americans’ identification as “pro-life” or “pro-choice” tends to shift with the changing nature of public debate on abortion.

“In the early part of the Obama administration, people actually identified more as pro-life than they did as pro-choice, and then, around 2012, you know, we see it go to one of its highest points for pro-choice, at 60 percent,” Carvalho said.

“So it’s about the, it’s about – the labels are about the debate in the public square,” she added, “but really not about the policy preferences and attitudes of Americans.”

U.S. Supreme Court. (YouTube)

The survey also found that many Americans think Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States through all nine months of pregnancy, should be revisited and potentially reversed.

Forty-nine percent of survey respondents said the Supreme Court should “allow states to make certain restrictions” on abortion and 16 percent said the court should make abortion illegal.

Only 30 percent said the court should keep abortion “legal without restriction.”

Currently, the United States is one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions – abortions for literally any reason – past the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. The other six are Canada, China, the Netherlands, North Korea, Singapore and Vietnam.

Most Americans who were surveyed also had issues with their tax dollars being used to fund someone else’s abortion. Fifty-four percent opposed or strongly opposed it, and 75 percent opposed or strongly opposed using tax dollars to fund abortion in other countries.


In addition, 56 percent of Americans said they believe a fetus is a unique life – separate from that of the mother. Eighty-three percent believe laws can protect both a mother and her unborn child.

Carvalho said that despite the appearance of stark polarization in the abortion debate, people on opposing sides can often find “common ground” on policy preferences.

“It’s not about just being on one side or the other side,” Carvalho said.

The Marist poll was conducted Jan. 8-10. Researchers interviewed 1,066 adults age 18 and older.

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