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Support for abortion rights is widespread — even among religious groups

Even among evangelicals, only a sliver of them think abortion should be banned completely.


The United States’ debate over abortion has traditionally ceded ground to conservative Christians. There’s a tendency to frame the issue as one of religion, which inevitably implies that conservative, Christian opposition to abortion is representative of religious views across the board — no matter the religion. 

But that’s wrong. In fact, perhaps contrary to conventional wisdom, many religions support the right to terminate a pregnancy. It’s mostly white conservatives who don't. And they haven’t earned dominion over God's word. 

As an NBC THINK article put it earlier this year: 

The focus on religious opposition to abortion overlooks the perspectives and religious commitments of the millions of people who have abortions in this country. Additionally, an imbalance in media coverage normalizes religious opposition to abortion, thus paving the way for particular theological beliefs to be codified into law. This ultimately denies the right of religious freedom to other faith communities whose beliefs about pregnancy, abortion and childbearing differ.

A Public Religion Research Institute poll conducted in March shed light on just how thin the sliver of religious Americans who oppose abortion outright truly is. 

Among all the religious groups surveyed, the one with the largest percentage of people who feel abortion should be banned in all cases was white evangelical Protestants — but only 24 percent of them feel that way, despite the group being one of the most conservative religious groups in the country. That group was also the only one in which a majority of people — 69 percent — said they feel abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

All of the other groups surveyed reported majorities of people who think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, including white mainline Protestants, Black Protestants and Hispanic Catholics. Although the list of religious groups surveyed wasn’t exhaustive, we know various forms of Islam and Judaism allow abortion, as well. 

During an appearance on "The ReidOut" in April, PRRI CEO Robert Jones attributed the fervent right-wing push to ban abortion to “a kind of Christian dominionism that’s not new.” 

“It’s found new energy with the Trump administration and afterward,” Jones said.

“As these groups are declining — they’re no longer a majority culturally or demographically in the country,” he added. “It is this kind of last, flailing and extreme effort to kind of drag the country back to a time when they really were the political, cultural majority that they no longer are today.”