Only 14% of Americans back an abortion policy as extreme as the one passed in Alabama

Alabama Senator Linda Coleman-Madison speaks during a state Senate vote on the strictest anti-abortion bill in the US on May 14, 2019.

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Alabama Senator Linda Coleman-Madison speaks during a state Senate vote on the strictest anti-abortion bill in the US on May 14, 2019.
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Chris Aluka Berry/Reuters

  • Only 14% of Americans would support making abortion illegal in all cases, meaning few would back an extreme law that just passed in Alabama.
  • Alabama’s legislature on Tuesday passed a law making it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion in Alabama – punishable by up to 99 years in prison – and banning abortion in cases of rape and incest. The only exception is if the mother’s health is at risk.
  • “The recent near complete ban on abortion passed by Alabama lawmakers is markedly out of step not just with Americans overall but even with core parts of the GOP base,” Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, told INSIDER.
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There aren’t many Americans who would support an abortion law as extreme as the one that just passed in Alabama, which effectively bans abortions in all cases.

Just 14% of Americans would support a ban on abortion in all cases, according to a September 2018 poll from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). The poll also found that 24% believe abortion should be legal in all cases and 35% in most cases, while 23% said it should be illegal in most cases. In other words, a majority of Americans (59%) believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to the poll.

PRRI has been polling people on this since October 2010 and, and the numbers are essentially unchanged. Over the course of 25 surveys, the percentage of respondents who support making abortion illegal never went above 19 percent or below 12 percent. In short, a blanket ban on abortion is not a particularly popular idea in the US.

Beliefs about abortion remain among the most steadfastly held of any issue, based on data from their American Values Atlas.

Read more: A state legislature that is 85% male passed the most extreme abortion ban in the US since Roe v. Wade

“The recent near complete ban on abortion passed by Alabama lawmakers is markedly out of step not just with Americans overall but even with core parts of the GOP base,” Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, told INSIDER.

“Only 14% of Americans believe abortion should be illegal in all cases. Even among white evangelicals, less than 3 in 10 believe abortion should be illegal in all cases; this view is also only shared by one in five Republicans. These numbers have been relatively stable over the last five years,” Jones added.

Other polls on this issue have exhibited similar results.

According to a Pew Research Center poll from October 2018, just 15% of Americans think abortion should be illegal in all cases, compared to 25% of adults who think it should be legal in all cases and 34% in most cases.

The extreme abortion bill that passed in Alabama on Tuesday makes it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion – punishable by up to 99 years in prison – and bans abortion in cases of rape and incest. The only exception is if the mother’s health is at risk. It’s the most extreme abortion ban the country has seen since Roe v. Wade, and Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed it into law on Wednesday evening.

All 25 of the lawmakers in Alabama’s Senate who voted for the bill are white, male, and Republican.