Abortion Surveys Reveal a Nation Divided

Americans' ambivalent views about abortion are reflected in two recent national polls.

In a CBS News/New York Times poll, 50 percent of those surveyed said it was the same as murder. But 60 percent said the court ruling legalizing it was a good thing.

An Associated Press poll found that more than 8 in 10 say they support the right to have an abortion in some or all circumstances. But only 47 percent said they favored the Jan. 22, 1973, Supreme Court ruling that allowed women to have the procedure.

In the CBS/New York Times poll, 32 percent of respondents said that abortion should be generally available, while 45 percent favored stricter limits and 22 percent wanted it not to be permitted. When a fourth option of making abortion against the law except in cases of rape, incest, or to save a woman's life was added, that became the most popular choice.

"Americans place great weight on both the sanctity of life and the importance of individual choice," said the American Enterprise Institute in a report on 25 years of abortion surveys.

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