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Abortion Rights Ruling Turns 40: Most Americans Want to Keep it Legal

PHOTO: At the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Pew pollsters have found entrenched attitudes on abortion. Courtesy of Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
PHOTO: At the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Pew pollsters have found entrenched attitudes on abortion. Courtesy of Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
January 22, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, Roe versus Wade, turns 40 today, and a new poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life finds most Americans - 63 percent - want to keep it legal.

Alan Cooperman, associate director for research with the Pew Forum, says public opinion has stayed about the same for the past 20 years. However, he says, although most people don't think the law should be changed, they seem to understand that the issue is complicated.

"Public opinion on this is not as divided into two straightforward camps, as one might think."

For example, Pew's research finds nearly one in five Americans say they personally believe abortion is morally unacceptable, but don't want to make it illegal.

While the poll shows the divide over the issue has stayed about the same, Pam Fitcher, president of Missouri Right to Life, says she doesn't believe that.

"Yes, there's entrenchment, but the movement is all on the side of 'pro-life.'"

Fitcher says she believes most people want to make abortions illegal, and that her group will continue to try to overturn Roe v. Wade and to defund Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood officials point out that it receives federal funding for services such as family planning and contraception, but by law, no federal dollars are spent on abortions.

See the poll information at PewForum.org.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA