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New Poll Shows How Many Americans Think Abortion Is 'Morally Acceptable'

AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

Last month, a leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court showed that the landmark case Roe v. Wade may be overturned this summer. Since then, polls have been conducted to highlight the number of Americans who would and would not like to see Roe overturned. A poll released this week asked respondents if they think abortion is morally acceptable, whether it is legal or illegal.

A Gallup poll published Thursday found that 52 percent of Americans think abortion is “morally acceptable.” The question was asked with 18 other hot-button topics, such as birth control, the death penalty and medical research using human embryo stem cells.

In the results, 92 percent of respondents said they think birth control is “morally acceptable.” Eighty-one percent said divorce is “morally acceptable.” Seventy percent said “having a baby outside of marriage” is “morally acceptable.” Fifty-five percent said the same for “doctor-assisted suicide.” Other topics included suicide, married men and women having an affair and sex between teenagers.

“Over the past two decades, views of the morality of most of the behaviors tracked have become more permissive,” the poll write-up stated. “Just as abortion is currently at its historical high point of moral acceptability, so too is divorce, having a baby outside of marriage, gambling, sex between an unmarried man and woman, sex between teenagers, birth control, and gay or lesbian relations. Though small minorities of U.S. adults think suicide (22%) and polygamy (23%) are morally acceptable, the percentages saying so are the highest since Gallup's first measure in 2001.”

The poll outlined the starkest differences between Republican and Democratic respondents. 

There are significant gaps in liberals' and conservatives' perceptions of the morality of all issues except for human cloning and medical testing on animals.

  • The widest gulf between liberals and conservatives, 61 percentage points, is in views of the moral acceptability of abortion -- but gay or lesbian relations, sex between teenagers, and doctor-assisted suicide also have sizable gaps of 40 to 41 points.

  • Liberals are 30 to 36 points more likely than conservatives to think the following behaviors are morally acceptable: premarital sex, stem cell research, pornography and suicide.

  • Conservatives are more likely than liberals to say three behaviors are morally acceptable -- the death penalty (by 27 points), buying and wearing clothing made of fur (by 15 points), and medical testing on animals (by eight points).

The poll, conducted from May 2 to May 22, has been taken every year since 2001 on a range of social issues. The write up concluded that the “ideological divide on most of the issues remains significant.”


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