Despite the emotional and political turmoil surrounding the issue of abortion, public opinion on this controversial topic has changed remarkably little since the Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that women have the right to have abortions performed.

In the latest Gallup survey, 53 percent believe that abortions should be "legal only under certain circumstances," while 25 percent feel that abortions should be "legal under all circumstances" and 18 percent say they should be "illegal under all circumstances."

The 1973 decision overruled state laws that prohibit or restrict a woman's right to obtain an abortion during her first three months of pregnancy.

Here is the question asked since 1975:

"Do you think abortions should be legal under any circumstances, legal under only certain circumstances, or illegal in all circumstances?"

As the following table shows, current attitudes closely parellel those recorded in earlier surveys. (TABLE) (COLUMN)1975(COLUMN)1977(COLUMN)1979(COLUMN)1980 (COLUMN)%(COLUMN)%(COLUMN)%(COLUMN)% Legal under all circiumstances(COLUMN)21(COLUMN)22(COLUMN)22(COLUMN)25 Legal only under certain circumstances(COLUMN)54(COLUMN)55(COLUMN)54(COLUMN)53 Illegal under all circumstances(COLUMN)22(COLUMN)19(COLUMN)19(COLUMN)18 No opinion(COLUMN)3(COLUMN)4(COLUMN)k(COLUMN)5 4(END TABLE)

Although the Roman Catholic Church opposes abortion under all circumstances, many Catholics are against the church's position on this issue. cIn fact, Catholic views are geneally in line with those of Protestants.

Here's how the views of Catholics and Protestants compare: (TABLE) (COLUMN)Protestants(COLUMN)Catholics (COLUMN)Protestants(COLUMN)Catholics (COLUMN)%(COLUMN)% Legal under all circumstances(COLUMN)23(COLUMN)22 Legal under certain circumstances(COLUMN)55(COLUMN)55 Illegal under all circumsttances(COLUMN)18(COLUMN)21 No opinion(COLUMN)4(COLUMN)2(END TABLE)

The Republican and Democratic nominating conventions served to sharpen the focus on the abortion issue. Republican convention delegates insisted on the inclusion of a plank in the GOP platform supporting a constitutional ban on abortions. The Democratic platform opposes such an amendment. In this light, it is interesting to note that the views of Republicans and Democratss in the current survey are remarkably similar, as are the attitudes toward abortion of supporters of presidential contenders Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and John B. Anderson. (TABLE) (COLUMN)Legal(COLUMN)Legal(COLUMN)Legal(COLUMN)No (COLUMN)under(COLUMN)under(COLUMN)under(COLUMN)opinion (COLUMN)all(COLUMN)certain(COLUMN)all (COLUMN)circ.(COLUMN)circ.(COLUMN)circ. Supporters of: Carter(COLUMN)26(COLUMN)52(COLUMN)19(COLUMN)3 Reagan(COLUMN)25(COLUMN)55(COLUMN)18(COLUMN)2 Anderson(COLUMN)28(COLUMN)56(COLUMN)12(COLUMN)4(END TABLE)

The results reported today are based on 1,548 personal interviews with adults, 18 and over, conducted in more than 300 scientifically selected localities during the period July 11-14