Americans remain divided along religious and political lines on whether abortion should be illegal in the U.S., the Pew Research Center said in its latest research released July 7.
White evangelical Protestants showed higher opposition to abortion than black and mainline Protestants. Most white evangelical Protestants (70 percent) said abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, compared to 41 percent of black Protestants and 30 percent of white mainline Protestants, based on research conducted June 8-18.
The religiously unaffiliated registered the lowest opposition to abortion, at just 17 percent.
On the flip side, 29 percent of white evangelical Protestants, 55 percent of black Protestants, 67 percent of white mainline Protestants and 80 percent of the religiously unaffiliated said abortion should be legal in most circumstances, Pew said.
Among political parties, Pew registered “deep disagreement between and within” the groups. “In fact, the partisan divide on abortion remains far more polarized than it was two decades ago,” Pew said.
In the latest research, nearly two-thirds of Republicans (65 percent) said abortion should be illegal, an increase over the 48 percent who said so in 1995. That year, Republicans were almost evenly split, with 49 percent saying abortion should be legal in most cases.
The change in attitudes among Democrats has been less extreme, Pew said. In the latest figures, three-fourths (75 percent) of Democrats said abortion should be legal in most cases, compared to 64 percent who said the same in 1995.
Ideological differences are apparent within both parties. More than half of moderate Republicans (54 percent) favor the legality of abortion in most cases, compared to a quarter (27 percent) of conservative Republicans. Of liberal Democrats, 91 percent favor abortion, compared to 61 percent of moderate and conservative Democrats.
Pew did not compare the 2017 findings in the religious categories to findings from 1995.
Across the board, Americans have favored the legality of abortion in all or most circumstances for more than two decades. The latest research shows 57 percent of Americans in favor of abortion being legal, as did 60 percent of Americans in 1995. The 40 percent who believe abortion should be illegal is comparable to the 38 percent who said the same in 1995.
Respondents who answered “not sure” are not included in results.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)