Stew Lilker’s

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Florida News

Abortion Rights Law Turns 40: Most Americans Want to Keep it Legal

TALLAHASSEE, FL - The Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in the United States, Roe versus Wade, turns 40 this week and a new poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life finds most Americans - 63 percent - want to keep abortions legal.

Pew Forum: Roe v. Wade at 40

Alan Cooperman, associate director for research at the Pew Forum, says public opinion has stayed about the same for the last 20 years. However, he says, although most people don't think the law should be changed, they seem to understand that the issue is complicated.

"Public opinion on this is not as divided into two straightforward camps as one might think."

For example, Pew's research finds nearly one in five Americans personally believes abortion is morally unacceptable, but don't want to make it illegal.

While the poll shows the divide over the issue has stayed about the same, Pam Fitch, with Right to Life, says she doesn't believe it.

"Yes, there's entrenchment, but the movement is all on the side of 'pro-life.'"

Fitch believes that most people want to make abortions illegal, and says her group will continue to try to overturn Roe v. Wade and to de-fund Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood officials point out that it receives federal funding for services like family planning and contraception but by law no federal dollars are spent on abortions.

Pamela Sumner of NARAL Pro-Choice is discouraged over lack of progress between the two sides on common-ground issues like prevention of unwanted pregnancies.

"We ought to be able to agree on things that would lower the number of abortions, because it's not like fun. It's not like taking a Tic-Tac and everybody just wants to line up there, for their fun abortion."

A lot of people seem to be willing to consider exceptions to the rule. When surveyed by Pew whether abortions should be legal or illegal, more chose the phrase "in most cases" rather than "all the time." 

Links and photos added by the Observer

Photo credit: © SHAWN THEW/epa/Corbis

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