Most Americans Want Abortion Restrictions After Unborn Baby Reaches 12 Weeks: POLL

By Mary Margaret Olohan Published on June 30, 2021

Most Americans want restrictions on abortion after an unborn baby has reached 12 weeks of pregnancy, a recent poll found.

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released Thursday found that while 61% of Americans say abortion should be legal in most or all circumstances during the first trimester (ends at 12 weeks), 65% of Americans said abortion should almost always be illegal in the second trimester (ends at 28 weeks) and 80% said abortion should almost always be illegal in the third trimester (ends around 40 weeks).

The poll reflects a strong divide in sentiment on abortion between Americans and pro-abortion advocates, who call for “abortion on demand” and insist that most Americans want unrestricted abortion.

“Across the nation, the people speaking through their representatives have enacted an unprecedented 89 pro-life laws this year – sending a clear message to politicians and the Supreme Court: it’s time to humanize our extreme status quo, in line with science and international norms,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement.

“Polling consistently shows the overwhelming majority of Americans reject late-term abortion,” she said. “By 15 weeks of pregnancy we know that unborn children can feel pain; most European nations limit abortion by this point.”

Despite American opposition to abortions during the second and third trimester, many Americans think that abortions should be allowed in some cases during these trimesters, the poll found. Of those polled, 34% said that abortions should usually or always be legal during the second and third trimesters, while 30% said that abortions should be should be illegal in almost all cases.

Nineteen percent of Americans said that most or all abortions should be legal and 26% said that abortions should be illegal almost across the board, the AP poll found.

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“This helps counter the narrative that the abortion policy outcome established by the Roe v. Wade decision enjoys substantial public support,” Michael New, a pro-life professor at the Catholic University of America, told the AP.

The poll comes ahead of an upcoming Supreme Court case in which the court will hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. A decision on the case will likely come by June 2022, CNBC reported.

This will be the first major abortion case in which all three of former President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court justice appointees participate, including Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who gained a seat on the court after a contentious confirmation process in October.

The case deals with a 2018 Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks, a law challenged by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, and the Mississippi Center for Justice on behalf of the last remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi, Jackson Women’s Health Organization. After the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law in December 2019, the state of Mississippi asked the Supreme Court to take up the case.

An unborn baby is considered viable at 24 weeks, though medical intervention and a stay in the NICU are usually required this early. Babies born before 23 weeks have a survival rate of about 5% to 6%, and analysis by Charlotte Lozier Institute medical experts found that unborn babies can feel pain as early as 12 weeks.

The AP-NORC poll surveyed 1,125 adults using a sample from the NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel with a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percentage points.


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