Nov 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

By the numbers: Abortion views

Data: Gallup; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The percentage of Americans who think abortions should be legal under any circumstances has ticked up in recent years, but a plurality still say it should only be legal in certain circumstances, according to polling by Gallup.

Driving the news: The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Monday for two challenges to a new Texas law banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. 58% of Americans oppose such bans, as of earlier this year.

Between the lines: Polls over the years reveal a long-divided country over the issue. Even as a record share of Americans (47%) now see abortion as morally acceptable, there are a variety of views over the strictness or laxity of abortion laws.

  • The share of Americans claiming to be "pro-choice" or "pro-life" has hovered around 50% since the late 1990s.
  • As of earlier this year, 49% labeled themselves pro-choice and 47% pro-life, according to Gallup.

By the numbers: Roughly one in three Americans now say abortion should be legal in any circumstance. Only 19% think it should be completely illegal, but another one in three say it should be legal only in a few circumstances.

  • Other Gallup polling gives some insight into the circumstances under which Americans are most supportive of abortion. As of 2018, a solid majority says abortion should generally be legal during the first trimester of pregnancy.
  • Meanwhile, at least 65% said abortion should generally be illegal in the second and third trimesters.
  • Yet when asked this year if they favor or oppose a ban on abortions after the 18th week of a pregnancy — in the second trimester — more than half of Americans said they opposed the idea.
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