Today is the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, which established American women’s constitutional right to an abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy. But although a majority of Americans have consistently supported legal abortion since the Roe ruling, the country remains deeply divided over the procedure. For many, the issue is far from black and white, and depends largely on the circumstances. As David Crary observes for the Associated Press:
Many conflicted respondents tell pollsters they support the right to legal abortion while considering it morally wrong. And a 2011 survey of 3,000 adults by the Public Religion Research Institute found many who classified themselves as both “pro-life” and “pro-choice.”
Nevertheless, the “pro-life” and “pro-choice” movements are often at loggerheads, and although abortion rights remain protected at the national level, “pro-life” advocates have had considerable success with state-level abortion restrictions. And although majorities of Americans believe that abortion should be legal and available in their local communities, a majority also agree that the procedure is immoral. Meanwhile, although Millennials (age 18-29) are no more likely than the general population to favor legal abortion, they are substantially more likely to say that abortion should be available in their local community, as our most recent weekly graphic shows. For more on Americans’ complex perspectives on abortion and reproductive issues, take a look at our 2011 general population survey and our 2012 survey of black and Hispanic Americans.