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Released: January 23, 2006

Support for Abortion in Sharp Decline

Survey finds 52% majority favor abortion in most circumstances, down markedly from 1990s; Stark partisan split remains

As the nation marks the 33rd anniversary of the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade that established abortion rights across America, a slight majority believes abortion should be always be available, or should be available without government financing, a new Zogby Interactive poll shows.

The survey shows that 52% favor abortion, including 10% who saying they believe it should be available, but that the government should not pay for it.

Forty-three percent oppose abortion, though most of those believe there should be exceptions in the cases of rape, incest, or when the pregnancy posed a grave threat to the life of the mother. A total of 9% said they “always oppose” abortion.

Among women, 50% said they favored the availability of abortion in all cases, while another 8% said they favor its availability but do not want the government to pay for it. Thirty-eight percent of women said they opposed abortion outright, or with certain exceptions. Among men, 59% said they oppose abortion completely or with certain exceptions, while 35% said they favor it always. Another 12% said they favor it but do not want the government to pay for it.

“What’s striking to me is that the numbers were radically different ten years ago,” said John Zogby, President and CEO of Zogby International. “Ten years ago, maybe just seven or eight years ago, pro-choice forces were in the ascendancy and posted pro-choice numbers in the area of 65% to 68%.”

They still represent a majority, but just barely, the survey shows.

The Zogby survey highlights a dramatic partisan split on the question. While 74% of Democrats said they favor abortion the availability of in all circumstances, just 9% of Republicans feel the same way. And while 78% of Republicans oppose abortion either completely or with some exceptions, only 17% of Democrats agree.

Among independents, 45% said they always favor the right to an abortion.

Among Republicans, 77% said that “abortion destroys a human life and is manslaughter,” while 13% disagreed with that statement. Among Democrats, 15% believe that abortion destroys a human life and is manslaughter, and 70% disagreed.

The poll comes as the U.S. Senate is preparing to vote soon on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Judge Alito, nominated last year by President Bush to take the seat now occupied by moderate Sandra Day O’Connor, is considered a conservative that could change the balance on the court on this issue and others.

The partisan divide over abortion is most dramatic when considering whether parents should be notified before a daughter’s abortion. While 88% of Republicans agree parents should know ahead of time, just 26% of Democrats agree. One in every two independents say parents should be told ahead of time.

The national split extends to the question about late-term abortion. One-third opposes late-term abortions except when the mother’s life is in danger; one-third opposes the procedure except when the overall health of the mother is at risk, and 20% said they opposed late-term abortions in all circumstances. Another 11% said they did not agree with any of those circumstances.

The Zogby Interactive survey was conducted Jan. 20-23, and included 5,640 interviews. The margin of error for the poll is +/-1.3 percentage points.


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