Knights of Columbus poll: Two-thirds of Americans support some abortion restrictions

Dobbs rally signs Participants in a pro-life rally hold signs in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., on June 24, 2023, at a rally marking the first anniversary of the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. | Credit: Joseph Portolano/CNA

About two-thirds of Americans support some level of government restrictions on abortion, according to a recent poll released by the Knights of Columbus. 

The poll, which the Knights conducted with Marist Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College, found that 66% of Americans believe that “limits should be placed on when abortion is allowed” and only 33% believe that “abortion should be allowed without any limits” when given the two options.

Respondents who labeled themselves pro-life were more likely to support limits on abortion, with 91% choosing that answer. Among respondents who said they were pro-choice, 48% still believed there should be some limits on abortion. About 84% of Republicans supported some limits on abortion, as did 49% of Democrats and 66% of independents. 

About 40% of respondents said that abortion should not be allowed in most circumstances: 9% said it should not be allowed in any circumstance, 9% said it should only be allowed to save the life of the mother, and 22% said it should only be allowed in cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother.

Another 18% of respondents said that abortion should only be allowed within the first three months of pregnancy.

The poll found that 58% of Americans consider themselves pro-choice and 40% of Americans consider themselves pro-life. About 70% of Republicans considered themselves pro-life, as did 16% of Democrats and 39% of independents.

“Once again, most Americans are steadfast in their belief that abortion should be significantly limited yet laws should include exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother,” Barbara Carvalho, the director of the Marist Poll, said in a statement.

“This clear trend found in the annual Knights of Columbus-Marist Poll has continued, nearly two years after the Supreme Court’s landmark Dobbs decision.”

The poll also found that a small majority of respondents, 53%, are against tax money being used to support abortion domestically. A larger proportion, 67%, do not support the use of American tax money to support abortion abroad. 

About 66% of respondents said they do not believe that pro-life doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals should be legally required to perform abortions. About 83% of those polled said they support the work of pregnancy resource centers, which provide services to pregnant women but do not offer abortion. 

“This year’s poll makes clear that a consistent consensus of Americans supports legal restrictions on abortion, and an overwhelming majority support pregnancy resource centers, which assist mothers and their children in greatest need,” Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly said in a statement. 

“I’m very proud that our Knights across the U.S. and Canada have raised more than $7 million to support these vital centers through our ASAP, or Aid and Support After Pregnancy program,” Kelly added. 

“Knights have also funded the purchase of over 1,790 ultrasounds, empowering an estimated 1.5 million mothers to see their unborn babies. The Knights of Columbus will continue to work tirelessly in our mission until abortion becomes unthinkable.”

Since the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, more than 20 states have imposed abortion restrictions, which includes more than a dozen states prohibiting abortion in almost all circumstances. Several other states, meanwhile, have moved to expand access to abortion in the wake of Roe’s repeal.

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