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Survey: Majority favors abortion limits

WASHINGTON (BP)–More than 80 percent of Americans believe abortion should be either prohibited or limited, according to a new survey.

The poll of U.S. adults shows 11 percent support a total ban on abortion, 38 percent favor restricting abortion to cases of rape, incest or a threat to the life of the mother and 33 percent endorse limiting the procedure to the first three or six months of pregnancy. Nine percent favored unlimited abortion rights throughout pregnancy.

Abortions may be performed at any stage of pregnancy in the United States, based on the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions. Under more recent high court rulings, states may enact some restrictions on the procedure.

The online poll of 2,341 adults, commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and conducted Dec. 10-12 by Harris Interactive, also found strong majorities favor specific laws limiting abortion. The data was weighted to be representative of the U.S. population. Among the findings:

— 88 percent support informed consent laws, which require abortion providers to inform mothers of possible risks to their health and of abortion alternatives.

— 76 percent back laws that protect health-care providers from being required to perform abortions or to refer women to doctors who will conduct the procedures.

— 73 percent favor laws requiring parental involvement in a minor’s abortion.

— 63 percent support laws banning the use of government funds to pay for abortions.

A USCCB official described the results as “remarkable.”

“Support for these measures cuts across ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ positions,” said Deidre McQuade, assistant director for policy and communications with the USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-life Activities. Even 35 percent of those who favored unlimited abortion rights supported at least three of the six abortion-restrictive laws presented to respondents in the survey, she said.

“This research indicates how out of touch pro-abortion groups are with mainstream America,” McQuade said.

Abortion-rights advocates in Congress are expected to promote legislation overturning pro-life policies, including those barring federal funding of abortion and abortion advocacy. President-elect Barack Obama has endorsed the Freedom of Choice Act, which would strike down all limitations on abortion and guarantee that abortion remains legal even if Roe someday is overturned.
Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.