Support for abortion rights falls in U.S.

Thu Oct 1, 2009 7:42pm EDT
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By Ed Stoddard

DALLAS (Reuters) - Support for abortion rights has slipped in America this year and now barely edges opposition, while the issue's importance has fallen, according to a new survey released on Thursday.

Barack Obama's election as president may have contributed to both trends. It has reassured Democrats that abortion rights are secure.

The findings by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center come as the polarizing issue has been injected in the debate around reforming health care, which is Obama's top domestic priority.

In polls in 2007 and 2008, supporters of legal abortion clearly outnumbered opponents. "Now ... there have been modest increases in the numbers who favor reducing abortions or making them harder to obtain," the organization said.

In 2007 and 2008 Pew found that supporters of abortion rights outnumbered those saying it should be illegal in most or all cases by 54 to 40 percent.

This year, two surveys of 5,500 adults found 47 percent supporting legal abortion with 44 percent opposed.

Obama is a strong supporter of abortion rights.

"The pattern of changes suggests that the election of a pro-choice Democrat for president may be a contributing factor," the polling organization said.   Continued...

<p>Abortion rights demonstrators (R) share the plaza with pro-life demonstrators (L) in front of the US Supreme Court to mark the 35th anniversary of Roe vs Wade, the landmark legislation which allowed abortion rights, during a rally in Washington January 22, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Theiler</p>