71% of young adults in US support some form of limits on abortion: poll

Pro-life and pro-choice activists gather at the Supreme Court for the National March for Life rally in Washington January 27, 2017.
Pro-life and pro-choice activists gather at the Supreme Court for the National March for Life rally in Washington January 27, 2017. | REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

A new poll conducted by a national pro-life advocacy group finds unexpectedly strong support for the pro-life movement among millennials and members of Generation Z.

Students for Life of America, a national organization with campuses at schools and colleges nationwide, released the results of a survey compiled as a project of SFLA’s Institute for Pro-Life Advancement.

The project surveyed 800 registered voters nationwide between the ages of 18 and 34 from Jan. 7 to Jan. 11. The results have an error margin of plus or minus 3.46 percentage points.

Respondents were asked to provide their views on abortion policy.

About 30% of respondents identified themselves as Republicans, while 36% were Democrats and 34% were independent. The survey found that “more than 7 out of 10 expressed support for limits on abortion.”

“Far from embracing Planned Parenthood and the Democratic Party Line, Millennials and Generation Z have a more nuanced view of abortion that embraces a number of pro-life positions,” SFLA President Kristan Hawkins said in a statement.

When asked for their position on abortion, 19% of respondents said that “abortion should be allowed at any time during a woman’s pregnancy and for any reason.”

Another 19% said that “abortion should be legal only in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.”

Meanwhile, 15% responded that “abortion should be legal for any reason, but not after five months of pregnancy when the fetus is viable and can feel pain.”

Another 15% of respondents asserted that “abortion should be prohibited in all circumstances.”

The poll found that 14% support keeping abortion legal for the first trimester of pregnancy only. Less than 1-in-10 respondents (8%) maintained that “abortion should be legal only to save the life of the mother.” Additionally, 9% said they were “unsure.”

Almost half (45%) of those surveyed expressed opposition to the idea of forcing all Americans to fund abortions through their tax dollars.

The survey came shortly before unified Democratic control of the federal government took effect last month. Members of the Democratic Party have signaled a desire to do away with the Hyde Amendment, a long-standing measure that prevents the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions.

A majority (53%) of respondents opposed the funding of abortions overseas using federal tax dollars. Shortly after taking office, President Joe Biden reversed President Donald Trump’s Mexico City Policy barring the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions in other countries.

A plurality (47% to 38%) of young Americans polled by SFLA said they support bans on abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as around six weeks gestation. Many states have passed heartbeat bills. But they have quickly been met with resistance from the judicial branch.

When asked about 1973’s Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, 41% of respondents expressed support for the decision compared to 22% who opposed it.

However, young Americans' views changed dramatically when they were given more details about the consequential Supreme Court decision.

When told Roe allows abortion to occur throughout all nine months of pregnancy, opposition to the landmark decision rose to 57% among those surveyed, while support dropped to 30%.

Respondents remained divided over whether the Supreme Court should reverse Roe and send the issue of abortion back to the states. About 44% support reversing Roe while 36% do not.

“This number is extraordinary considering Planned Parenthood claims that Roe is popular and that 77% of the American people oppose reversing it,” said Hawkins. “Issue by issue, the perspectives of young American voters targeted for abortion are very different from the talking points of the powerful abortion lobby. And there is common ground for those who want to find it.”

A plurality (44%) of respondents told SFLA that they support a policy requiring women to have an in-person exam before taking the abortion pill.

By a more than 2-1 margin (55% to 23%), young Americans surveyed support requiring abortion pills to be picked up in-person. The abortion lobby has used the coronavirus pandemic to push for making chemical abortions available by mail.

While long-standing federal regulations prohibit women from obtaining abortion-inducing drugs by mail, a federal judge suspended a Food and Drug Administration requirement that women need to see a doctor before obtaining abortion drugs. The judge claimed that the rule presented an undue burden during the pandemic. However, the Supreme Court reinstated the FDA rule last month.

The Students for Life poll results mirror the findings in another poll conducted by Marist on behalf of the Catholic fraternal organization Knights of Columbus.

That poll, released last week, found that 76% of Americans support at least some restrictions on abortion.

About 71% of young Americans told SFLA that they support abortion restrictions in some form.

“Despite what you may hear, the facts prove that Millennials and Gen Zers are not looking for an extreme abortion agenda over the next four years,” Hawkins wrote in an op-ed published by Real Clear Politics. “Instead, like many Americans, they express a more nuanced point of view that should be taken into account by those who will be facing these voters in two years.”

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