A plurality of Americans say abortion is morally wrong, according to Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs survey, which also shows a record percentage of Americans saying divorce is morally acceptable.
The poll, conducted May 1-13 and released Tuesday, shows that 47 percent of Americans say abortion is morally wrong and 44 percent say it’s morally acceptable. Although neither percentage is a record, it continues a two-decade trend: The percentage of those who say it’s morally wrong has been higher than the “morally acceptable” position every year since the question was first asked in 2001.
Last year, 50 percent said abortion was morally wrong and 42 percent morally acceptable. When the question was first asked in 2001, 45 percent said it was morally wrong and 42 percent morally permissible.
The poll also shows that on four family-related issues – divorce, sex between unmarried individuals, having a baby outside of marriage, and polygamy – a record-high percentage of Americans say each one is morally permissible.
A record-high of 77 percent say divorce is morally permissible and a record-low of 18 percent say it is morally wrong. Four percent say it depends on the situation. When the poll was first conducted in 2001, 59 percent said divorce was OK, 28 percent said it was wrong and 12 percent said it depends.
A record-high (72 percent) also say sex between an unmarried man and woman is morally permissible, with 27 percent saying it’s wrong. (In 2001, 53 percent said it was morally acceptable and 42 percent said it was morally wrong.)
On the subject of having a baby outside marriage, a record-high 66 percent say it’s morally acceptable and a record-low 32 percent say it’s wrong. (In 2001, 50 percent said it was wrong and 45 percent said it was OK.)
On polygamy, a record 20 percent say it’s morally acceptable and 78 percent say it’s wrong. (In 2003, when the question was first asked, 7 percent said it was permissible.)
Acceptance of gay and lesbian relations (66 percent) is one percentage point from a record high (67 percent, set in 2018).
Meanwhile, a record-low 54 percent of Americans say the death penalty is acceptable and a record-high 40 percent say it’s wrong.
“Abortion remains the most ideologically polarizing issue asked about, with 70% of liberals and 18% of conservatives classifying it as morally acceptable,” Gallup’s Megan Brenan wrote in an online analysis. “Gay or lesbian relations and teenage sex are the next most divisive issues, with acceptability gaps of 41 and 40 percentage points, respectively.”
Gallup analyzed public perception on a myriad of other issues including birth control, drinking alcohol, gambling, smoking marijuana, cloning humans and more. View the full results here.
The survey was based on interviews with 1,028 adults.
Photo courtesy: Maria Oswalt/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.