Reason Roundup

80 Percent of Americans Say Abortion Should Sometimes Be Legal

Plus: Columbus cops charged over treatment of protesters, Biden cancels Trump's TikTok ban, and more...


Americans remain fairly evenly split on the morality of abortion. In a new Gallup poll, 47 percent of people said that abortion is morally acceptable, while 46 percent said that abortion is morally wrong. "The 47% who say it is acceptable is, by two percentage points, the highest Gallup has recorded in two decades of measurement," the polling organization notes.

Over the past 20 years, the split between the number of Gallup poll respondents saying abortion is morally acceptable and those saying it's morally unacceptable has run a wide gamut, ranging from zero to 20 percentage points.

"Americans have been typically more inclined to say abortion is morally wrong than morally acceptable, though the gap has narrowed in recent years," Gallup reports.

From 2001–12, the average gap between the two positions was 11 points. Since 2013, the average gap has been five points.

In 2020, the divide between the two positions was three points—slightly smaller than it was this year, but with a higher percentage of respondents (47 percent versus 44 percent) saying abortion is morally wrong.


As expected, Democrats are more likely than their Republican counterparts to deem abortion morally acceptable. And over the course of the Gallup poll, both Democrats and Independents have become more likely to hold this view.

In the latest poll, 64 percent of Democrats, 51 percent of Independents, and 26 percent of Republicans said abortion was morally OK.

While Americans may be split evenly on the moral acceptability of abortion, the percentage who believe it should be legal is still significantly higher than the percentage who believe it should be illegal.

Some 32 percent of poll respondents this year said abortion should be legal "under any circumstances," while nearly half—48 percent—think it should be legal "under certain circumstances." Only 19 percent say it should be "illegal in all circumstances."

"The nearly one-third of U.S. adults who support fully legal abortions is the highest such percentage since the early to mid-1990s, when it was consistently at that level," Gallup points out.

But of those who think it should be sometimes legal, many would only see it so in narrow circumstances:

Currently, 33% favor legal abortions in only a few and 13% in most circumstances. This translates into 52% supporting a more restrictive approach on abortion, saying it should be either illegal in all circumstances or legal in only a few. Meanwhile, 45% favor a less restrictive approach, preferring that it be legal in all or most circumstances.

Perhaps that explains why the legal/illegal divide is so different than the divides on morally acceptable/unacceptable and pro-choice/pro-life.

For decades, Gallup has also found a fairly even split between the number of Americans who consider themselves "pro-choice" and who consider themselves "pro-life":

Just as the public is evenly divided in their beliefs about the morality of abortion, so too are they about equally likely to personally identify as "pro-choice" (49%) versus "pro-life" (47%).

Americans have been closely split in how they identify their abortion stances in recent years. Since 1998, an average 47% of U.S. adults have considered themselves pro-choice and 46% pro-life. Between 1995 and 1997, the public tilted more pro-choice (52%) than pro-life (38%), on average.

In the most recent poll, women were somewhat more likely than men to consider themselves pro-choice (52 percent versus 45 percent) and college graduates were more likely than non–college graduates (65 percent versus 40 percent).

Gallup's poll was conducted May 3–18 and involved a sample of 1,016 American adults. Based on the question, the margin of error was ±four to five percentage points.

In related news, a federal appeals court has blocked a Missouri law banning abortion after eight weeks:

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a ruling Wednesday upheld a lower court's injunction of the law, which would ban the procedure after eight weeks of pregnancy. The statute also specifies that an abortion cannot be performed "solely because of a prenatal diagnosis" indicating a child might have Down syndrome.

The three-judge panel ruled that Missouri's law amounted to a ban, rather than a restriction, on the procedure.

Full ruling here.


Three police officers in Columbus, Ohio, face criminal charges stemming from their treatment of anti–police brutality protesters last May. The charges come as part of an investigation by a special prosecutor and independent investigator into alleged misconduct during protests over the murder of George Floyd. That prosecutor, Kathleen Garber, said the investigation is ongoing.

For now, Columbus cops have been charged with offenses including assault, dereliction of duty, falsification, and interfering with civil rights:

Officer Traci Shaw was charged with three counts each of assault, dereliction of duty and interfering with civil rights, after video taken at the event allegedly showed Shaw exiting her police cruiser and pepper-spraying individuals. A witness said Shaw allegedly did so without provocation or warning, according to the complaint.

Officer Phillip Walls was charged with two counts each of assault, dereliction of duty and interfering with civil rights, after video allegedly showed him pepper-spraying "peaceful protestors who are standing on the sidewalk," according to a complaint.

Sgt. Holly Kanode was charged with one count of falsification and one count of dereliction of duty, after she allegedly told an officer filling out an arrest report that the individual had "grabbed hold of another Officer and jerked him to the ground with his gear," despite body camera evidence to the contrary, according to a complaint.


Biden cancels Trump's TikTok ban. The Biden administration is dropping its predecessor's pursuit of a U.S. ban on Chinese-origin apps TikTok and WeChat. But the new administration "will conduct its own review aimed at identifying national security risks with software applications tied to China," notes Al-Jazeera. "A new executive order on Wednesday directed the Department of Commerce to undertake what officials described as an 'evidence-based' analysis of transactions involving apps that are manufactured or supplied or controlled by China."


• Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is under investigation by the state bar association. The organization seeks to determine whether his "failed efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on bogus claims of fraud amounted to professional misconduct," reports the Associated Press.

• Oregon lawmakers have approved a measure banning cities from fining or arresting homeless people "for sleeping or camping on public property when there are no other options."

• Are holograms the future of remote chat?

• Alabama is considering using COVID-19 relief funds from the federal government to build new prisons.

• "The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which helps set borrowing costs on everything from corporate debt to mortgages, closed at 1.489%…its lowest settle since March 3," notes The Wall Street Journal.

• "A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy has been charged with assault and evidence tampering stemming from an arrest she made in Lancaster two years ago," the Los Angeles Times reports.