American Abortion Sentiments

Earlier this month, Ohio’s legislature passed a law making abortion illegal upon the ability to detect the fetal heartbeat. This bill has not only divided pro-choice and pro-life ideologists, but has also divided the anti-abortion regime. According to FiveThirtyEight, half of the anti-abortion faction is strongly pushing for the new law while the other half doesn’t have faith that the law can “withstand a court challenge.”

This is not to say that the bill is without support; however, historically, hot-button bills such as this one foster ambivalence amongst constituents. A similar bill, the “heartbeat bill” was being  discussed in 2012 and 2013. This legislation proposed “banning abortions after the first fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.” Ohio voters divided evenly on the “heartbeat bill”: 46% voted in favor of the bill while 47 percent opposed. This division was not within parties, but between them. Approximately one-third of Democrats and two-thirds of Republicans were in favor of it. Partisanship is most assuredly still intact.

As a matter of fact, a recent study by Pew Research Center most Americans say abortion should be “always legal” or “mostly legal,” and there really hasn’t been a shift in public opinion on abortion in the last two decades. According to the 2016 poll, 59% of Americans want abortion to be always or mostly legal. Support for legal abortion has fluctuated in recent years, but is at its highest level since 1995.

Most Republicans continue to be opposed to legal abortion, and their views have remained relatively stable in recent years. Currently, 62% of Republicans say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, while 34% think it should be legal in at least most cases.

Anna Graff

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