Support for abortion access growing in Pennsylvania; highest ever surveyed | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Support for abortion access growing in Pennsylvania; highest ever surveyed

A recent Franklin & Marshall poll shows 30 percent want abortion always legal, while only 15 percent support a ban. Remaining want abortion legal under certain circumstances.

Support for abortion access growing in Pennsylvania; highest ever surveyed
CP photo by Jake Mysliwczyk
Pennsylvania has long been known to have pro-life Republicans and Democrats. Both sides of the issue can, at times, appear to have substantial backing.

But a new poll shows support for abortion access is growing and possibly at its highest number to date.

Franklin & Marshall College conducted a poll from Aug. 20-26. One question asked registered Pennsylvanians voters their opinions on abortion.
  • 30 percent believe abortion should be legal under all circumstances
  • This is the highest number polled since they started asking in 2007
  • 15 percent believe abortion should be banned, lowest number polled
  • 54 percent support abortion under certain circumstances
From 2007 to 2010, the F&M poll tracked fairly consistent support for complete legal access to abortion around 20 percent, while complete illegality was supported by 22 percent of Pennsylvanians. In 2014, the support jumped to 23 percent, while opposition dropped to 19 percent. That split appears to be growing larger in 2018.

Kimberlee Evert of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania says the polling shows Pennsylvanians want freedom in their medical decisions. In December 2017, the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania legislature passed a 20-week abortion ban, which Gov. Tom Wolf (D-York) vetoed.

"We have seen an influx of frustrated people who are now volunteering and speaking out in support of abortion access," says Evert. "Hopefully these poll numbers and the voices of concerned Pennsylvanian’s will send a message to politicians to stop the relentless attacks on reproductive rights." 

The progressive think tank Data for Progress compiled data on abortion, and showed that Pennsylvania, like every other state in the country, has support for banning abortion below 25 percent.

Abortion rights have gained increased media attention with the announcement of pro-life Judge Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice nominee. Some believe Roe V. Wade, the landmark decision upholding abortion rights, could be repealed if the balance of the court is shifted right with Kavanaugh assuming the bench. This could lead state legislators to pass laws banning abortion outright.

Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner (R-York) said on the campaign trail in August that he would support an abortion ban if elected. Wolf said in July he would veto any abortion ban.

The poll included responses from 511 Pennsylvanians, with 243 Democrats, 200 Republicans, and 68 independents. Of the respondents, 52 percent were women and 48 percent were men. About 70 percent considered themselves religious, with 31 percent identifying as Protestant and 23 percent identifying as Catholic.

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