A new poll released today by the Christian research organization The Barna Group shows Americans on whole have fairly mixed and moderate views on abortion.
A solid majority – 57 percent – were either mildly supportive or disapproving of abortion. On the extremes, only 15 percent wanted it illegal in all cases and 19 percent wanted it legal in all cases.
Not surprisingly faith outlook had a significant impact on people’s views.
The strongest detractors of abortion were evangelical Christians, with 78 percent stating abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. On the other side of the spectrum, 72 percent of atheists and agnostics felt abortion is permissible in most or all circumstances.
Within faith groups differences existed as well.
Born-again Christians who are not evangelical were opposed to abortion by a 55-39 percent margin. Frequent churchgoers fell into a similar 60-38 percent range opposed to abortion.
Christians who favored abortion staying legal with fairly unfettered access included Christians who did not identify themselves as born again (54 percent), Catholics (53 percent) and mainline Protestants.
“The data suggest that among some Americans, though certainly not all, the issue has become less polarizing,” Barna Group president David Kinnaman said. “Perhaps it appears less relevant to Americans because there are so many other urgent issues. Also, the standard debate may seem toned down as both sides of the ideological spectrum have tried to find common objectives – such as limiting the number of abortions and pursuing adoption reform – although some have questioned how serious either contingent really is about these goals.”