By Carol Pipes
A new survey from Public Religion Research Institute shows a widening generational divide on reproductive health issues and abortion, with one-quarter of young people ages 18 to 29 saying they’ve grown more supportive of abortion rights over the past few years.
Researchers found one-third of young Americans today say their views on abortion have changed in recent years.
Nearly three times as many young Americans say they have become more supportive of abortion rights rather than more opposed (25 percent vs. 9 percent), according to PRRI.
In contrast, seniors (age 65 and up) are twice as likely to say they have become more opposed to abortion rights (12 percent) than more supportive (6 percent).
These trends translate to significant generational gaps:
- Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of young people, compared to 51 percent of seniors, agree that abortion should be legal in most or all cases.
- Nearly 7 in 10 (69 percent) young people, compared to 46 percent of seniors, agree that at least some healthcare professionals in their community should provide legal abortions.
PRRI also found a complex relationship between Americans’ support of abortion rights and their personal beliefs about abortion.
While a majority of Americans (54 percent) agree abortion should be legal in all or most cases, a majority (54 percent) also say that “abortion goes against my personal beliefs.”
More than one-third (34 percent) of Americans who say abortion is at odds with their personal beliefs still believe it should be legal in most or all cases. Only 19 percent of those who are personally opposed to abortion say it should be illegal in all cases.
More than 4 in 10 (44 percent) Americans disagree, saying abortion does not conflict with their personal beliefs.
Again, PRRI found differences between older and younger generations. Just 44 percent of young Americans say abortion goes against their personal beliefs, compared to 60 percent of Americans over 65.
The study also found little change in public views on the legality of abortion over the last decade. In 2008, 57 percent of Americans said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 36 percent said it should be illegal in all or most cases.
In 2018, 54 percent of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 43 percent say it should be illegal in all or most cases.
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CAROL PIPES (@CarolPipes) is editor in chief of Facts & Trends.