Anti-choice activists: a loud minority

If you follow abortion in the news, chances are you’ve heard stories of anti-choice protestors blocking entrances to abortion clinics or politicians passing measures that restrict access to reproductive health services. These anti-choice activists are certainly loud, but according to surveys from around the world, they represent only a small fringe of public opinion.

An Ipsos global poll of 23 countries (across 6 continents) found that 84% of people say abortion should be legal at least in some circumstances. Breaking down this support, the survey finds that 43% believe a woman should be able to have an abortion in any circumstance, another 41% support abortion in limited circumstances, 11% say abortion should be allowed in dire situations, and only 5% say abortion should never be permitted.

The story is similar in other countries where public opinion polling exists on the topic. Most people living in European countries tend to believe abortion is either morally acceptable or that it is not a moral issue at all. For example, 47% of the public in France agrees abortion is not a moral issue while another 38% believe it is morally acceptable.

While people in Europe and Australia hold the most liberal attitudes, solid majorities of the public in other countries agree abortion should be permitted in at least some circumstances. For example, only 16% of the public in Mexico and 12% of those in South Africa feel abortion should be denied no matter the situation.

In the United States, where Trump’s reinstatement of the Gag Rule jeopardizes health care access to women around the world, public opinion leans in support of abortion. According to Gallup, more than three-quarters of Americans believe abortion should be legal, while only 18% of the public say it should be outlawed in all circumstances.

The vast majority of Americans believe reproductive rights should be protected, even if they don’t believe abortion is for them personally.

Statistics like these are important in combatting the sensationalized rhetoric of the anti-choice movement. Contrary to what anti-choice activists may lead the public to believe, abortion is both common and safe. Worldwide, 1 in 4 pregnancies end in an abortion, according to estimates from the World Health Organization and Guttmacher Institute. The Ipsos poll also found that 34% of people polled either experienced an abortion themselves or had a partner who did.

A U.S. study of women who terminated their pregnancies found that regret of the decision to end one’s pregnancy is the exception to the rule—99% of women surveyed indicated they felt they made the right choice.

HowToUse is committed to promoting access to safe abortion information. Regardless of how loud the anti-choice movement may be, we will continue to stand in defense of women’s body autonomy.