A new study was released this week that showed broad support across religious lines for the right of women to make their own health care decisions - including over abortion - with only white evangelical Christians showing strong opposition.
Public Religion Research Institute reports:
A solid majority of Americans say abortion should be legal in all (19%) or most (37%) cases, compared to 4-in-10 who say it should be illegal in all (14%) or most (26%) cases.
- With the exception of white evangelical Protestants, majorities of all major religious groups say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
- A majority of Americans across the political spectrum say it is more socially acceptable today to be “pro-choice” rather than “pro-life.”
Nearly 6-in-10 (58%) Americans say that at least some health care professionals in their communities should provide legal abortions.
- With the exception of white evangelical Protestants and Latino Catholics, majorities of all major religious groups agree that at least some health care professionals in their community should provide legal abortions.
- Americans who live in large metropolitan areas are much more likely than those who live in rural communities to say legal abortion services should be available in their community (67% vs. 39% respectively).
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice issued a statement on these findings that read in part:
Washington, DC - The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) applauds the findings of a major new survey released today that shows strong support for access to abortion among Millennials (those ages 18-29), mainline white Protestants, African American church-goers, and other religious groups. The survey confirms RCRC’s position that most Americans who are affiliated with a religious tradition support access to legal abortion. The Public Religion Research Institute of Washington, DC, conducted the survey, which it describes as the largest national public opinion survey on the influence of religion and moral values on the abortion issue.
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) is the national alliance of denominations and religiously affiliated organizations from 15 traditions, including the Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, two agencies of the United Methodist Church, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements of Judaism, Catholics for Choice, and Lutheran, Disciples of Christ, Ethical Culture and other groups.
However, the conclusion of the Millennials, Religion and Abortion Survey - that young people are conflicted about the morality of abortion – differs from our experience with young people on more than 60 campuses, through our Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom program. Millennials have grown up in the most diverse and pluralistic society in America’s history and recognize and respect differing moral views about abortion, which is very different from saying they are conflicted about abortion. In our experience, Millennials support access to abortion services in large part because they believe that individuals should be able to obtain the health and medical services that they themselves determine they need – based on their religious and moral values, conscience and circumstances. In a significant finding, 59% of Millennials surveyed said they think that “abortion can be the most responsible decision a woman can make in certain circumstances.”
The survey findings indicates that clergy and religious leaders have a responsibility to speak up in support of women who have had an abortion and to provide assurance that abortion is not a sin and is not condemned or even mentioned in the Bible. Seventy-eight percent of women having an abortion have a religious affiliation, according to The Guttmacher Institute, a public policy and research organization.
Other important findings include:
- Millennials are significantly more likely than the general public to say that at least some health care professionals in their community should provide legal abortions (68% v. 58%)
- 86% of Millennials support abortion when the health of the woman is at risk (in addition to supporting abortion when the woman’s life is in danger)
Click here to learn more about the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.