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The vast majority of Americans want some restrictions on abortion, even though most do not want abortion to be totally banned, new poll data shows.
While two thirds of Americans say abortion should generally be legal, that number is nuanced because most Americans do want some restrictions, according to a June poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released Wednesday.
Only about a quarter of Americans say abortion should always be legal, the poll found.
About 73% of people think abortion should be legal in the first six weeks of pregnancy, but that number drops to only half of Americans at 15 weeks, which is still just the beginning of the second trimester.
About a tenth of Americans say abortion should never be legal, according to the poll.
The poll gauged public opinion one year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that made abortion legal nationwide.
Overall, public opinion is roughly about the same as it was a year ago, when Roe vs. Wade was overturned, the poll shows.
After the Supreme Court’s decision, Republican legislatures have enacted abortion bans at the state level in many states. Abortion is currently banned throughout pregnancy in 14 states, which have different exceptions depending on the state.
In Georgia, abortion is banned once the unborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected, which is around six weeks. Similar “heartbeat” abortion bans in Ohio and South Carolina are stuck in court, so they are not currently in effect. Florida passed a “heartbeat” ban in April that will not take effect until the Florida Supreme Court delivers a ruling on an abortion case about a separate 15-week ban Governor Ron DeSantis passed last year. Iowa also has a “heartbeat” ban that is expected to be signed by Governor Kim Reynolds soon.
The Supreme Court’s decision was the result of a Mississippi case called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which dealt with Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. The decision also overturned another landmark abortion case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which in 1992 doubled down on the right to abortion access established by Roe v. Wade.
Abortion procedures differ depending on how far along the mother is in her pregnancy.
In the first trimester, a woman can often undergo a medication abortion at home, which involves taking the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol to cause the uterus to shed its lining and start cramping and bleeding, expelling the baby.
For abortions later in the pregnancy, a surgical procedure called dilation and evacuation (D&E) is often used, which involves dilating the cervix and using a suction tube and sometimes forceps to remove the baby and all other pregnancy-related tissue.
Pro-life doctors have condemned the D&E procedure as brutal to the unborn child, and pro-life groups have worked for years to raise awareness about how the procedure actually works.
Dr. Anthony Levatino, a Las Cruces, New Mexico, obstetrician and gynecologist testified to House lawmakers in 2013 that the unborn baby is dismembered during a D&E procedure.
“The toughest part of a D&E abortion is extracting the baby’s head. The head of a baby that age is about the size of a large plum and is now free‐floating inside the uterine cavity,” Levatino told the House panel. “If you refuse to believe that this procedure inflicts severe pain on that unborn child, please think again.”
The Associated Press poll surveyed 1,220 people from June 22 to 26 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.