Support for legal abortion is widespread in many countries, especially in Europe


Majorities in most of the 27 places around the world that Pew Research Center surveyed in 2023 and 2024 say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. But attitudes differ widely – even within places. Religiously unaffiliated adults, people on the ideological left and women are more likely to support legal abortion in many places.

This analysis focuses on public opinion of abortion in 27 places in North America, Europe, the Middle East, the Asia-Pacific, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

This analysis draws on nationally representative surveys of 27,285 adults conducted from Feb. 20 to May 22, 2023. All surveys were conducted over the phone with adults in Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Surveys were conducted face-to-face in Argentina, Brazil, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland and South Africa. In Australia, we used a mixed-mode probability-based online panel.

Data from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Vietnam comes from a survey of 6,544 adults conducted from June 6 to Sept. 17, 2023. All interviews in Hong Kong and Taiwan were conducted over the phone; those in Vietnam were conducted face-to-face.

In the United States, data comes from a survey of 8,709 U.S. adults conducted from April 8 to 14, 2024. Everyone who took part in this survey is a member of Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology.

Here are the questions used for this analysis, along with responses, and the survey methodology.

A diverging bar chart showing that majorities in most places surveyed support legal abortion.

A median of 66% of adults across the 27 places surveyed believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while a median of 30% believe it should be illegal in all or most cases.

In the United States, where a Supreme Court decision ended the constitutional right to abortion in 2022, 63% of adults say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. U.S. support for legal abortion has not changed in recent years.

In Europe, there is widespread agreement that abortion should be legal. In nearly every European country surveyed, at least 75% of adults hold this view, including roughly 25% or more who say it should be legal in all cases.

Swedes are especially supportive: 95% say it should be legal, including 66% who say it should be legal in all cases.

Poland stands out among the European countries surveyed for its residents’ more restrictive views, at least compared with other Europeans. Over half of Poles (56%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, but 36% say it should be illegal in all or most cases.

Attitudes are more varied in the Asia-Pacific region. Majorities say abortion should be legal in all or most cases in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. But in Vietnam, a majority (59%) say it should be illegal in all or most cases, and 82% in Indonesia share this view.

In Israel, 51% of adults say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 42% say it should be illegal in all or most cases.

In all three African countries surveyed – Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa – majorities say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. That includes 88% of adults in Kenya and 91% in Nigeria.

In South America, views about legal abortion are divided in Argentina and Mexico. But in Brazil, seven-in-ten adults say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

Abortion legislation and views of abortion

Abortion rules tend to be more restrictive in places where support for legal abortion is lower. Abortions in Brazil, Indonesia and Nigeria are only permitted when a woman’s life is at risk, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. In Israel, Kenya and Poland, abortion is permitted to preserve a woman’s health. Most other places surveyed have more permissive regulations that allow abortions up to a specific point during the pregnancy.  

Compared with Pew Research Center surveys over the past decade in Europe, India and Latin America, more people in many countries now say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Importance of religion and attitudes toward abortion

Attitudes toward abortion are strongly tied to how important people say religion is in their lives. In places where a greater share of people say religion is at least somewhat important to them, much smaller shares think abortion should be legal.

For example, 99% of Nigerians say religion is important in their lives and only 8% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 20% of Swedes see religion as important and 95% support legal abortion.

People in India are outliers: 94% view religion as important, but 59% also favor legal abortion.

A scatter plot showing that support for legal abortion tends to be higher where people place less importance on religion.

How religious affiliation, GDP relate to abortion views

Economic development plays a role in this relationship, too. In places with lower gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, people tend to be more religious and have more restrictive attitudes about abortion.

But the U.S. stands apart in this regard: Among the advanced economies surveyed, Americans have the highest per capita GDP but are among the most likely to say religion is important to them. They are also among the least likely to say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

A dot plot showing that religiously unaffiliated adults are more likely than those affiliated with a religion to favor legal abortion.

Religious affiliation is also an important factor when considering views of abortion in particular places.

On balance, adults who are religiously unaffiliated – self-identifying as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – are more likely to say abortion should be legal in all or most cases than are those who identify with a religion.

This difference is largest in the U.S., where 86% of religiously unaffiliated adults say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared with 53% of religiously affiliated Americans. Of course, differences also exist among religiously affiliated Americans. White evangelical Protestants are the least likely to favor legal abortion.

In countries where there are two dominant religions and negligible shares of religiously unaffiliated adults, there are often divides between the dominant religions.

Take Israel, for example, where 99% of adults affiliate with a religion. While 56% of Jewish adults say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, 23% of Muslims agree. And 89% of Jews who describe themselves as Hiloni (“secular”) favor legal abortion, compared with only 12% of Haredi (“ultra-orthodox”) or Dati (“religious”) Jews. Masorti (“traditional”) Jews fall in between, with 58% favoring legal abortion.

Views differ by religion in Nigeria, too, even as the vast majority of Nigerians oppose legal abortion. One-in-ten Nigerian Christians support legal abortion in all or most cases, compared with just 3% of Nigerian Muslims.

Differences in views by political ideology

A dot plot showing that people on the ideological left are more likely to support legal abortion than those on the right.

In 15 of the 18 countries where the Center measures political ideology on a left-right scale, those on the left are more likely than those on the right to say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Again, Americans are the most divided in their views: 94% of liberals support legal abortion, compared with 30% of conservatives.

Opinions by gender

Gender also plays a role in views of abortion, though these differences are not as large or widespread as ideological and religious differences.

In seven countries surveyed – Australia, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, the UK and the U.S. – women are significantly more likely than men to say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

In an additional six countries in Europe and North America, women are more likely than men to say abortion should be legal in all cases.

In Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Poland, Taiwan, Vietnam and all the African and Latin American countries surveyed, men and women have more similar views on abortion.

Note: Here are the questions used for this analysis, along with responses, and the survey methodology. This is an update of a post originally published June 20, 2023. 



This article was originally published by a www.pewresearch.org . Read the Original article here. .