Editor's Note: This article was updated on July 7, 2023, with Gallup's latest data pertaining to Americans' views on abortion.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Most Americans believe abortion should be legal to some degree, particularly in the first trimester. The majority also disagree with the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, thus returning discretion over the legality of abortion to the states. At the same time, majorities think second- and third-trimester abortions should generally not be legal.
Broad Views on the Legality of Abortion
According to Gallup's May 2023 update on Americans' abortion views, 34% believe abortion should be legal "under any circumstances," 51% say it should be legal “only under certain circumstances,” and 13% say it should be illegal in all circumstances.
A follow-up question asked of those taking the middle position finds 13% want abortion to be legal under most circumstances, while 36% favor it in only a few circumstances. The result is 47% of U.S adults favoring expansive abortion rights (legal in all or most cases) and 49% favoring more restrictive rights (legal in only a few or no cases).
The demographic breakdown of these abortion views can be found on Gallup's Legality of Abortion Demographic Tables page.
Support for Abortion Rights Varies by Trimester
When asked about the legality of abortion at different stages of pregnancy, about two-thirds of Americans say it should be legal in the first trimester (69%), while support drops to 37% for the second trimester and 22% for the third. Majorities oppose abortion being legal in the second (55%) and third (70%) trimesters.
In line with Americans’ broad support for first-trimester abortions, the majority oppose laws that would “ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually around the sixth week of pregnancy.” Also, 63% favor allowing the abortion pill mifepristone to be available in the U.S. as a prescription drug. Read more about their views on the abortion pill here:
Most Oppose Dobbs Decision
The May 1-24, 2023, survey is Gallup’s first update of Americans’ abortion views since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in its Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision in June 2022. However, the May 2022 survey was conducted mostly after a leaked copy of the Dobbs opinion was reported in the news. That survey detected notable changes in abortion views, likely a reaction to the impending decision, as described at the time in this article:
In line with Americans wanting abortion to be legal to some degree, 61% currently say that overturning Roe v. Wade was a “bad thing,” while 38% call it a “good thing.” Those views are similar to what Gallup measured in 2022, when asking about Roe hypothetically being overturned, as well as more than 30 years of trends showing opposition to overturning Roe.
Identity as ‘Pro-Choice’ Increases Since Dobbs Leak
Continuing a shift seen in May 2022, Gallup's 2023 abortion update finds the public continuing to lean more "pro-choice" (52%) than "pro-life" (44%) in their identification on abortion. This is a change from 2007 to 2021, when no more than 50% of Americans identified as pro-choice.
The breakdown of how different subgroups of Americans answer this question is available on Gallup's "Pro-Choice" or "Pro-Life" Demographic Table page.
Similarly, after years when Americans were closely divided on the morality of abortion or leaned against it, a slight majority in 2022 said they consider it morally acceptable. That continues in the 2023 poll, as 52% say abortion is morally acceptable and 41% call it morally wrong.
U.S. subgroups’ views on this question are provided on Gallup's Morality of Abortion Demographic Table page.
Yearly trends for Americans’ views on the legality of abortion and whether they identify as pro-choice or pro-life are shown by gender, age and party ID on the following pages:
Learn how the abortion issue may influence voters’ candidate preferences in upcoming elections here:
Find more Gallup articles about abortion on the Abortion Topics page.
Explore Gallup questions and trends about abortion on Gallup's Topics A-Z: Abortion page.
For more articles in the "Short Answer" series, visit Gallup's The Short Answer page.
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