40% of Americans think that abortion should be declared illegal. Nevertheless, significant differences have been noted from state to state.
The opinion of Americans regarding abortion varies widely from state to state: citizens of northern and western states generally show a more favourable attitude towards the practice, as opposed to those living in southern states and the mid-west.
A recent survey found that 54% of Americans think that abortion should be made legal in all or the majority of cases and 40% believe it should be declared illegal. Nevertheless, significant differences have been noted from state to state.
Support for abortion legislation is quite strong in New England, where 75% of citizens think that abortion should be legal in every or the majority of cases and only 20% feel that it should be illegal. This support for abortion is also seen on the Pacific coast, where 65% of citizens feel that it should be legal.
Nevertheless, opposition to abortion is growing fast in other areas, particularly in the South Central states, which include the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Here, 52% think that abortion should be illegal in every or the majority of cases, whereas only 40% believe it should be legal. In Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and North and South Dakota, opinions are equally divided, with 47% in favour of legalised abortion and 47% against.
Curiously, when it comes to defending the right to life, these absolute figures represent mere tendencies. For instance, in New England in 1995 and 1996, 70% of citizens supported legalisation of abortion, whereas 75% of citizens support it today. However, for the states of Southern U.S. this figure fell from 52% to 40% (BMJ 2013; 347:f4915).
In states such as Texas, new laws are being drafted which favour the pro-life position even more. Texas Governor Rick Perry recently expressed his desire to promote new legal provisions that would mean greater restrictions to abortion. The proposed law will prohibit abortion from being performed after 20 weeks from fertilisation, requires that all physicians who perform abortions are not receiving special incentives and that all abortions are performed in technically well-equipped clinics, complete with air sterilisation systems, specific rooms of sufficient size which are equipped with all the necessary amenities. On the 13th of July, the day the bill was passed, Perry stated that Texas had taken an important step towards the protection of human life: “This legislation builds on the strong and unwavering commitment we have made to defend life and protect women’s health” (BMJ 2013; 347:f4584).