Of Catholic voters, 8% said abortion should be allowed only during the first six months of a pregnancy and 24% said abortion should be allowed only during the first three months.
Nearly 1 in 5 Catholic voters (18%) said that abortion should be available to a woman any time she wants one during her entire pregnancy.
“This polling shows that Catholics, like Americans, reject the abortion extremism that prevailed in this country for 50 years under the Roe regime,” McGuire told CNA. “Only one in five polled believe abortion should be legal for any reason at any time, which was what Roe permitted,” she said of the recently-overturned 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
A previous EWTN News/RealClear Opinion Research poll of Catholic registered voters in 2020 found that a majority (51%) of Catholic voters said that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with 31% saying it should be legal except for late-term cases and 20% saying it should always be legal.
These new numbers echo polling of the general U.S. population on abortion. A Pew Research Center survey from March found that 19% of U.S. adults say abortion should be legal in all cases, while 8% said it should be illegal in all cases. More recent Gallup data from May found that 35% of U.S. adults say abortion should be legal under any circumstances while 13% said it should be illegal in all circumstances.
The Pew Research Center data also looked at Catholic adults. Thirteen percent said abortion should be legal in all cases, while 10% said it should be illegal in all cases. Those percentages changed when looking at those who attend Mass at least once a week: 4% said abortion should be legal in all cases, and 24% said it should be illegal in all cases.
The EWTN News/RealClear Opinion Research poll also breaks down abortion data by Catholic voters’ adherence to Catholic teaching as well as by how frequently they attend Mass.
“[T]he questions about favoring restrictions on abortion are meaningful in terms of understanding Catholic voters only when the respondents are sorted by Mass attendance or whether they are practicing Catholics,” Mary Rice Hasson, the director of the Person and Identity Project and the Kate O'Beirne Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, told CNA.
Among political parties, a plurality of Catholic voters who identified as Republican and a plurality of independents or unaffiliated voters said that abortion should be permitted only in cases of rape, incest, or to save the woman’s life. A plurality of Democrats (28%) said that abortion should be allowed only during the first three months of pregnancy, closely followed by Democrats who said abortion should be allowed at any time of pregnancy (27%).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which summarizes official Church teaching, recognizes abortion as a “crime against human life” and states that human life “must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.”
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A majority of Catholic voters (65%) said that they believe that supporting abortion conflicts with Catholic teaching, while 25% said they did not believe abortion support conflicts with Catholic teaching. Ten percent said they did not know.
McGuire said the findings showed that a “solid majority of Catholics actually understand Church teaching which states that a pro-choice position is in direct conflict with the faith.”
“President Biden has done much to confuse Catholics and Americans more broadly by claiming to be both a devout Catholic and championing abortion at the same time,” she added. “But as Pope Francis recently pointed out, this position is ‘incoherent,’ and the polling suggests that Catholics actually understand and agree.”
The poll found that a majority of Catholic voters (60%) are less likely to support political candidates who support abortion at any time during a pregnancy. That includes a majority of Republicans and a majority of independents and unaffiliated voters. Democrats were split between more likely and less likely.
A minority (32%) of Catholic voters are more likely to back political candidates who support abortion at any time.