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Political and religious division regarding abortion persists among Americans, Pew poll reveals

(Wikimedia Commons/Boston)March For Life 2009 in Washington, DC

A recent survey conducted by Pew Research Center has revealed that Americans remain divided along religious and political lines about the legality of abortion on the U.S.

The findings of the study, released on July 7, indicated that 57 percent of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 40 percent think that it should be illegal in all or most cases. In 1995, 60 percent of Americans were in favor abortion being legal, while 38 percent said that it should be illegal.

The researchers noted that there is a "deep disagreement between and within" political parties over abortion.

Among Republicans, 65 percent believe that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, compared to 34 percent who say that it should be legal.

The GOP were evenly divided in 1995 when 49 percent said the procedure should be legal, compared to 48 percent who believed that it should be illegal.

In contrast, there has been little change in the views about abortion among Democrats in the past two decades. Seventy-five of Democrats today believe that abortion should be legal in at least most cases, compared to 64 percent in 1995. Liberal Democrats are more likely to favor legal abortion at 91 percent, compared to 61 percent of moderate and conservative Democrats.

White evangelical Protestants showed high opposition to abortion at 70 percent, while the religiously unaffiliated show the lowest opposition at just 17 percent.

The study, conducted on June 8–18, also found that 41 percent of black Protestants and 30 percent of white mainline Protestants are opposed to legal abortion.

Pew noted that only 29 percent of white evangelicals believe that abortion should be legal in most circumstances, compared to 55 percent of black Protestants, 67 percent of white mainline Protestants and 80 percent of the religiously unaffiliated.

The survey also showed that younger adults are more likely to support legal abortions. As many as 61 percent of respondents younger than 50, including those aged 18 to 29, favor legal abortions, and only 33 percent of those under 30 say they were opposed.

Those with higher levels of education were also found to be more likely to favor legal abortions. Seventy-five percent of the respondents with post-graduate degrees and 64 percent of those with bachelor's degrees say they support legal abortion, compared to 49 percent of adults with no more than a high school education.

Other findings showed that 55 percent of men and 59 percent of women believe that abortion should be legal in at least most cases. The results also showed modest racial and ethnic differences, with 58 percent of whites, 62 percent of blacks and 50 percent of Hispanics saying the procedure should be legal in all or most cases.

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