Approval of abortion rose the most among independents. In January, 43 percent of independents said they believed abortion should be legal all or most of the time. That support rose 11 percentage points to 54 percent by December. Support among Democrats rose seven points to 76 percent, while approval of abortion rose five points to 40 percent among Republicans.
But while approval of abortion may be at a two-year high, support for one of its main providers, Planned Parenthood, has suffered. That trend seemed to accelerate between August and September as antiabortion activists released videos which, they said, made clear that officials with the organization were illegally selling fetal organs. Planned Parenthood has denied any wrongdoing.
Polling conducted by Quinnipiac University shows that favorability toward the women’s health-care organization dropped from 55 percent in 2012 to 43 percent in August and then 44 percent in September. Planned Parenthood’s unfavorability ratings rose from 22 percent in 2012 to 38 percent in August and to 39 percent in September.
Still, other surveys conducted after the release of the videos found that the public largely supports the group’s government funding. A September New York Times poll found that a plurality of Americans has a favorable view of the group.
The antiabortion group Center for Medical Progress released a video in July purporting to show a Planned Parenthood official discussing the illegal sale of fetal tissue, though the video did not show any explicit discussion of the matter.
The rise in abortion support in the latest AP-Gfk survey may be fleeting. Research has shown that Americans’ attitudes regarding abortion have been relatively consistent over the decades, despite the occasional fluctuation.
On Nov. 27, an armed gunman stormed a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, killing three and injuring at least nine others. The suspect in the incident, Robert Lewis Dear Jr., used the phrase “no more baby parts” to explain his actions, according to law enforcement.
The poll was conducted days later, from Dec. 3 to Dec. 7, with 1,007 adults interviewed. The margin of sampling error is 3.4 percentage points. Respondents were chosen randomly by phone or by mail and then subsequently interviewed online.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story cited incorrect data on attitudes toward Planned Parenthood. The numbers have been updated.