In PRRI’s landmark survey of over 40,000 Americans, “The State of Abortion and Contraception Attitudes in All 50 States: Findings from the 2018 American Values Atlas,” awareness of abortion, either through personal experience or knowing someone with personal experience, is strongly correlated with support for abortion legality. In the survey, just under half (49%) of Americans report that they themselves have had an abortion or know someone who has (or both).
Three in four (75%) Americans who report having had an abortion think it should be legal in all or most cases and 60% who know someone who had an abortion say the same. Americans who do not know anyone who had an abortion are evenly split between supporting and opposing abortion (46%).
Americans who have personal experience with abortion are slightly more likely to be abortion litmus test voters (candidate views on abortion being a determining factor for support) than respondents who report having no personal experience with abortion. Thirty percent of respondents who had an abortion say they would only vote for a candidate who shares their views on this issue, and 23% of those who know someone who had an abortion agree. Only 19% of people who don’t know anyone who had an abortion say the same.
Respondents who report having some personal experience with abortion are also much more likely to identify as pro-choice. People who say they had an abortion are more than four times as likely to be strongly pro-choice (21%) than strongly pro-life (5%). Americans who have no personal experience with abortion are less likely to be strongly pro-choice (5%) and more likely to be strongly pro-life (11%).