59% of Americans: Prohibit Abortion in Most or All Circumstances

By Terence P. Jeffrey | May 23, 2012 | 2:03pm EDT

(AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Fifty-nine percent of Americans say abortion should be illegal in most or all circumstances, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

Since 1994, Gallup has been asking Americans over 18 years of age whether their view is that abortion should be legal under any circumstances, legal under most circumstances, legal in only a few circumstances or illegal in all circumstances.

Both then and now, America had a pro-life majority, according to Gallup’s data, but that majority is bigger today.

In a survey conducted Sept. 6-7, 1994, 33 percent said abortion should be legal in all circumstances and 13 percent said it should be legal in most circumstances—making a total of 46 percent who said all or most abortions should be legal.

In that same 1994 poll, 38 percent said abortion should be legal only in a few circumstances and 13 percent said it should be illegal in all circumstances—making a majority of 51 percent who said abortion should be illegal in most or all circumstances.

In the survey released Wednesday, which was conducted May 3-6 of this year, 25 percent said abortion should be legal in all circumstances and 13 percent said it should be legal in most circumstances—making a total of 38 percent who said all or most abortions should be legal.

By contrast, 39 percent said abortion should be legal only in a few circumstances and 20 percent said it should be illegal in all circumstances—making a majority of 59 percent who said abortion should be illegal in most or all circumstances.

Abortion was legalized across the United States by the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. In that decision, Justice Harry Blackmun, who had been appointed to the court by Republican President Richard Nixon, said he believed the Constitution protected a “right to privacy” that he suspected was in the Fourteenth Amendment and that included a right to abortion.

“This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy,” Blackmun wrote.

Then, again, Blackmun said that if it was determined that an unborn child was a “person,” the Fourteenth Amendment would explicitly protect the child’s right not to be aborted.

“The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a ‘person’ within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment,” wrote Blackmun. “In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment.”

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