WASHINGTON (BP)--A new poll suggests that self-described pro-choice Americans support a range of abortion restrictions such as banning second- and third-trimester abortions -- data that puts them at odds with the nation's leading abortion rights groups and that could give support to a handful of new state laws.
The Gallup poll compared the views of pro-choice and pro-life Americans to see if there is any common ground in the contentious debate and found agreement in nine specific areas. Six of those are laws promoted by pro-lifers.
For instance, 52 percent of pro-choicers and 90 percent of pro-lifers favor making abortion illegal in the second trimester. Eight states have passed laws in the past 18 months prohibiting abortion beginning at 20 weeks.
In addition, pro-choicers and pro-lifers favor laws:
-- requiring a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion (60 percent of pro-choicers and 79 percent of pro-lifers favor it).
-- requiring parental consent for minors (60 percent pro-choicers; 79 percent pro-lifers).
-- banning partial-birth abortions (63 percent pro-choicers, 68 percent pro-lifers).
-- making abortion illegal in the third trimester (79 percent pro-choicers, 94 percent pro-lifers).
-- requiring informed consent for abortion patients (86 percent pro-choicers, 87 percent pro-lifers).
Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and all the major abortion groups oppose each of those restrictions.
"Planned Parenthood, in other words, doesn't even represent the views of the Americans who are predisposed to support them," Thomas Peters, of the pro-life group Live Action, wrote at LiveAction.org. "The pro-life movement has much to gain by highlighting the fact that 'common ground' solutions to reducing the abortion rate ... have support not only among pro-lifers, but by a majority (and sometimes a large majority) of people who claim to be pro-choice. Planned Parenthood always tries to paint us as the extremists -- turns out the opposite is true!"
The poll also found pro-choicers and pro-lifers in agreement on:
-- keeping abortion legal when the woman's life is endangered (97 percent pro-choicers, 69 percent pro-lifers).
-- keeping abortion legal when the woman's physical health is endangered (96 percent pro-choicers, 68 percent pro-lifers). Pro-life leaders argue that such an exception is far too broad, because all pregnancies, they say, endanger a woman's physical health.
-- keeping abortion legal when the pregnancy is caused by rape or incest (91 percent pro-choicers, 59 percent pro-lifers).
Gallup also found the two sides in sharp disagreement on some issues. For instance, while 64 percent of pro-choicers believe abortion should be allowed when a woman or family cannot afford a child, only 9 percent of pro-lifers believe so. And while 89 percent of pro-choicers say abortion should remain legal in the first trimester, only 35 percent of pro-lifers agree.
The poll was released Aug. 8 and based on surveys conducted June 9-12 and July 15-17. Each time, just over 1,000 adults were interviewed.
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press.
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