While abortion marks a clear dividing line between Republican and Democratic leaders, it is less straightforward for many Americans.
Mark Whitt, who works for the Estill County school system in Irvine, Ky., said he supports abortion only to save the mother’s life. Whitt said he is “a conservative Democrat, though they say there isn’t such a thing.”
Milo Schield, an Augsburg College professor who lives in Prescott, Wis., said he supports abortion access without restrictions until the 24th week of pregnancy. He questioned a new Wisconsin law that requires doctors to have hospital-admitting privileges, which Planned Parenthood said could force the closing of two of its four clinics in the state.
“There doesn’t seem to be data about whether it makes a difference to have a doctor present or hospital-admitting privileges,” said Schield, who considers himself a libertarian and is not affiliated with either major party. “I don’t know what Wisconsin’s rationale was. It’s like creationism. It’s shrouded in science but not science-based.”
Advocates on each side said the polling suggests that their side is winning the battle over public opinion.
“Polls like today’s prove again and again that championing the brutal dismemberment of children is a losing proposition among Americans,” Live Action President Lila Rose, whose group makes undercover videos of abortion clinics, wrote in an e-mail. “Americans will continue to see that the horror of abortion doesn’t vanish before 20 weeks, or 12 weeks, or 8 weeks.”
Donna Crane, vice president for policy at NARAL Pro-Choice America, said poll respondents might have given an “emotional response” when they expressed support for limiting abortion at 20 weeks. “By an even starker margin, Americans support a constitutional right to choose,” she said.
The poll was conducted July 18 to 21 among a random national sample of 1,002 adults. Results from the full poll have an error margin of 3.5 percentage points.