Most Americans know at least one person who has had an abortion, and most of them say the person's experience was a generally negative one, according to a new poll.
Of the 68 percent who told polling company, inc./WomanTrend that they know someone who has had an abortion, 55 percent said the abortion was a negative experience while 33 percent said it was a positive experience.
Moreover, 53 percent said they believe abortion is "almost always a bad thing" for a woman while 13 percent said it was "almost always a good thing." Twenty-one percent, meanwhile, said it was neither bad nor good and 13 percent said they do not know or refused to answer.
Despite this, a vast majority of Americans support a woman's right to have an abortion, though few (15 percent) would support it past the third month of pregnancy and for reasons other than rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.
But when probed about late-term abortions – abortions in the 7th, 8th, and 9th months of pregnancies – most (82 percent) said they would be opposed to the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice who supports such abortions.
The majority of Americans (71 percent) also would oppose a nominee who favors using tax dollars to pay for abortions in the United States and most (75 percent) would oppose a nominee who favors eliminating virtually all laws restricting abortion, including laws requiring parental notice for minors wanting to obtain abortions.
"By overwhelming majorities, Democrats, Republicans and Independents agreed that judges should exercise restraint and check their own beliefs and predispositions at the courthouse door," noted Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, which the poll was conducted on behalf of.
"They agreed on upholding common sense abortion regulations already in place in the states, including parental consent laws, and objecting to late-term abortions and taxpayer-funded abortions in the U.S. and overseas. Further, this consensus was held even among Americans who self-described themselves as 'pro-choice,'" she observed.
Notably, of those polled, 32 percent considered themselves to be Republicans, 38 percent considered themselves to be Democrats, while 22 percent considered themselves to be Independents.
Furthermore, 41 percent had voted for Barack Obama during the presidential election while 36 percent had voted for John McCain. And 44 percent said they consider themselves conservatives, 20 percent liberals, and 28 percent moderates.
"Significantly, the majority of Americans of all political and ideological cohorts expressed opposition to a suggested federal law that abolishes restrictions on abortions (including 93% of Republicans, 69% of Independents, and 72% of Democrats, 88% of conservatives, 77% of moderates, and 62% of liberals.)," reported Yoest.
That suggested law, as Yoest pointed out, is the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), a bill that President Obama had vowed to sign into law and one that the U.S. Supreme Court may have to rule on in the not-so-far future.
"Fully nine-in-ten Americans who identified with a pro-life position on the six-point scale (90%) and 65% who selected a pro-choice stance on the same spectrum were dissatisfied with this potential legislation," Yoest added.
Americans United for Life has submitted the findings of the May 17-18 poll to the nation's senators as they consider the president's nominee for the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor of New York.
Though the federal judge's record on abortion is limited, she has been drawn concern over her "very liberal judicial philosophy."
"President Obama promised us a jurist committed to the 'rule of law,' but, instead, he appears to have nominated a legislator to the Supreme Court," commented Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
Still, a key GOP senator has conceded Wednesday that Republicans see little chance of blocking Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination since Democrats control the Senate.
But the senator, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, said Republicans were ready to raise pointed questions about whether Sotomayor, the first Hispanic nominee to the high court, would let her personal life color her legal opinions – and whether that's appropriate for a Supreme Court justice.
"We have an absolute constitutional duty to make sure that any nominee, no matter what their background and what kind of life story they have, that we examine that so the American people can know that the person we give a lifetime appointment to ... will be faithful to the law and not allow their personal views to influence decision-making," the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee said in an interview on NBC's "Today" show.
Sotomayor's Capitol Hill debut could come as early as next week.