A study compiled by the District of Columbia based Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights Show that in 19 polls taken between 1972 and 1977, Americans generally believe a woman should be able to get a legal abortion.
When questioned about the morality of abortion, or specific conditions under which it should be allowed. Americans are more closely split in their views.
The most recent of the surveys, a Gallup poll taken last December, found that 22 percent of Americans think that abortion should be legal in all circumstances, 55 percent say it should be legal under certain circumstances, and 19 percent say it should be illegal under all circumstances.
A survey taken in November 1977 by the polling firm of Yankelovitch, Skelly and White found a much closer division when it asked: "Do you think it is morally wrong to have an abortion?" Forty-four percent said yes, 48 percent said no, and 8 percent had no opinion. However, when asked if they believed that "regardless of morality, a woman should be legally free to have an abortion if she wants one" 64 percent said yes.
On the other hand, 58 percent agreed with President Carter's view that government funds should not be used to finance elective abortions for the poor.
A five-year survey taken of 1,500 to 1,600 adults by the National Opinion Research Center in Chicago found that approval of abortion diminishes as the need for it appears less extreme. For example, 88 percent agreed that a legal abortion should be available to a woman whose health would be seriously endangered if she had the baby, while only 45 percent approved if she was "married and does not want more children." Approval ratings in all categories increased over the five years the survey was taken.
A Washington Post survey of national leaders in eight categories in September 1976 found that 70 percent agreed "strongly" that "it is the right of a woman to decide whether to have an abortion," while only 8 percent disagreed strongly.
Harris surveys in 1976 and 1977 asked, "In general, do you favor or oppose the U.S. Supreme Court decision making abortions up to three months of pregnancy legal? In the first poll, 59 percent favored the decision and 28 percent opposed it, while in the second 53 percent favored it and 40 percent were opposed.