New England Becoming More Pro-Abortion; South, Midwest Becoming More Pro-Life

Views on abortion are becoming more entrenched in certain regions of the country, with New England residents more convinced of the pro-choice position and the Midwest and parts of the South becoming more pro-life, according to a new Pew Forum study.

While abortion views have remained relatively steady when looking at the nation as a whole, the Pew study shows greater variation in a few regions of the country. The study compares views on abortion in 1995 and 1996 to views on abortion in 2012 and 2013 for eight regional areas – New England, Pacific Coast, Mid-Atlantic, Mountain West, Great Lakes, South Atlantic, Midwest, and South Central.

Like the nation as a whole, abortion views held steady in most of those regions with three notable exceptions – the Midwest, New England and South Central. Residents became more pro-choice in the New England states and residents became more pro-life in the Midwest and South Central states.

In New England, which includes Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, 70 percent answered that abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances in 1995-1996, which increased to 75 percent in 2012-2013.

In the Midwest, which includes Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, a majority, 55 percent, believed that abortion should be legal in 1995-1996, but that decreased to 47 percent in 2012-2013.

The South Central region, which includes Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas, saw the largest change of any region. Support for keeping abortion legal in all or most cases reduced 12 percentage points, from 52 percent in 1995-1996 to 40 percent in 2012-2013.

The report notes that the regional differences are similar to the regional differences over the issue of redefining marriage to include same-sex couples.

"These regional differences are similar to the steep national divide over gay marriage. A 2012 Pew Research Center analysis found that same-sex marriage received broad support in New England and faced the most opposition in the South Central states," the report states.

Part of the report results were based upon a July 17-21, 2013, survey of 1,480 adults with a plus or minus three percentage point margin of error.