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A poll has revealed surprising statistics about Americans: 84 percent agree that abortion should be significantly restricted, and 70 percent say they would vote for a candidate who opposed same-sex marriage.

The poll was conducted from Sept. 24 to Oct. 3 for the Knights of Columbus, a 1.7 million-member Catholic men’s society formed to provide mutual aid to its members and families, by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

The poll surveyed 1,733 Americans from across the nation, 1,503 of whom are registered voters and 813 of whom are Roman Catholics.

The results on the issue of abortion were particularly unexpected:

  • Only 8 percent of those polled believed abortion should be available to a woman at any time in her pregnancy
  • Of the 50 percent who called themselves pro-choice, three-fifths said abortion should only be available in the first three months of pregnancy
  • 71 percent of registered voters said they would support a candidate who maintains that life begins at conception
  • 71 percent of those calling themselves pro-choice said they would approve of significant limits to abortion access beyond our nation’s current laws on abortion
  • 84 percent of the total believes abortion should be significantly restricted, favoring a variety of limits, from permitting the procedure only in the first three months of pregnancy, to only in the case of rape or incest, to not at all

Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson responded to the results, suggesting there is much more room for agreement and action on abortion than most people realize.

“‘Pro-choice’ – when applied broadly,” Anderson said in a statement, “needlessly polarizes the discussion of abortion and masks the fact that there is broad consensus among Americans that abortion should be significantly restricted.”

When asked about the issue of same-sex marriage, nation-wide agreement was also apparent:

  • Only 30 percent of those polled support legalizing same-sex marriage
  • 38 percent of Americans oppose any legal recognition of same-sex couples, including civil unions
  • 70 percent of Americans (and 70 percent of Catholics) said they would vote for a candidate who believed marriage should be between one man and one woman

The survey further differentiated among the Catholics, with 65 percent labeled as practicing – for attending religious services at least once a month – and 35 percent labeled non-practicing.

And while Catholics tended to agree with Americans as a whole on issues like concern over the economy and a belief that “the country’s moral compass right now points in the wrong direction,” there were significant divides between the practicing and non-practicing Catholics.

Among the significant differences:

  • 59 percent of practicing Catholics call themselves pro-life, while only 29 percent of non-practicing Catholics accept the label
  • 65 percent of non-practicing Catholics call themselves pro-choice, while only 36 of practicing Catholics describe themselves the same way
  • 76 percent of practicing Catholics oppose same-sex marriage, but 46 percent of non-practicing Catholics support it

In addition, non-practicing Catholics were more likely than Americans on the average to label themselves pro-choice (65 percent versus 50 percent) and more likely to support same-sex marriage (46 percent versus 30 percent).

In other comparisons, practicing Catholics reflected the national averages in most categories, but tended to be wealthier, better educated and more likely to be married.

Catholics as a whole were slightly more likely to affiliate Democrat less likely to be Republican than the national average, with non-practicing Catholics much more likely to describe selves as moderate or liberal.


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