WASHINGTON – A new Marist/Knights of Columbus poll shows Americans are split almost evenly between those who call themselves "pro-life" or "pro-choice," with 44 percent identifying as the former and 51 percent as the latter. But when they're asked about possible limits on abortion, their responses were surprising.
According to the survey, even 60 percent of those in the pro-choice camp would back some restrictions on abortion.
At a news conference about the poll's findings, Knights of Columbus Vice President Andrew Walther said, "The two labels – pro-life and pro-choice – mask a much greater consensus that lies beneath those labels."
"If you actually ask people, 'What do you want the policy to be?' as opposed to, 'Pick an imperfect label for yourself,' I think that in that case what you see here is a very positive trend," he added.
According to that trend:
- 26 percent of Americans would restrict abortion to just the first three months of pregnancy.
- 30 percent would restrict it in cases of rape, incest or to save the mother's life.
- 12 percent would restrict it just to save the life of the mother.
- 8 percent say abortion should be forbidden no matter the circumstances.
That adds up to 76 percent of Americans wanting some sort of restriction on abortions.
It cuts across party lines: Ninety-two percent of Republicans, 61 percent of Democrats and 78 percent of Independents favor restrictions.
"I think what you see that's very encouraging is that this is not strictly speaking a partisan issue. You have major blocs in every party that are looking for these kinds of restrictions," Walther told CBN News.
"What is typically written up as the most contentious issue around -- or one of the most contentious issues around -- actually has the kind of consensus on a bipartisan level, on a political level, that policy could be made and change could be done with three-quarters percent of the American people," he concluded.
Other interesting findings from this new poll of 2,617 adults:
- 56 percent of Americans believe abortion is morally wrong, while 41 percent think it's morally acceptable.
- 52 percent say abortion does more harm than good, while 29 percent believe it improves a woman's life.
- 63 percent of Americans support a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, while 33 percent oppose such a ban.
- 60 percent oppose using tax dollars for abortion, while 36 percent favor it.
The poll came out just two days before the largest annual pro-life event in America, the Jan. 19 March for Life in Washington, D.C. The yearly march protests the 1973 Supreme Court ruling Roe vs. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide.