Poll shows majority of Americans favor abortion restrictions

WASHINGTON — The annual poll of Americans' views on abortion sponsored by the Knights of Columbus indicates that more than three-fourths continue to be in favor of "significant restrictions" on abortion access, even though a slim majority describe themselves as "pro-choice."

The poll, conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, surveyed 1,267 adults in December and another 1,350 adults earlier this month.

Seventy-six percent indicated support for "significant" limits, while 51 percent of respondents overall called themselves "pro-choice."

"I think what you see that's encouraging is that this is not, strictly speaking, a partisan issue," said Andrew Walther, vice president of communications for the Knights of Columbus, at a Jan. 17 news conference. "The labels (pro-choice and pro-life) don't quite tell the full story."

"Policy change," he observed, "could be done with the support of three-quarters of the American people."

Sixty-three percent indicated they support a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. "That's up a bit from last year," Walther said.

The Senate is expected to vote soon on a 20-week ban called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which passed the House last year.

The bill is not expected to pass in the Senate, since it will require at least 60 votes. But as a symbol to the pro-life movement, the vote could be held as early as Jan. 19 to coincide with the annual March for Life, which is held to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions, which legalized abortion.

President Donald Trump, who will address the pre-march rally via a satellite hookup from the White House Rose Garden, has said that if the Senate passes the bill, he would sign it into law.

Other poll findings included:

• A majority of respondents, 56 percent, see abortion as "morally wrong," and of those, most said they practiced a religion. The survey doesn't break out Catholic respondents.

• If it was considered likely that an unborn child will have a genetic disorder, more than 60 percent found abortion morally wrong.

• 52 percent thought that an abortion "did not improve a woman's life in the long run."

• 78 percent agreed that "laws can protect both a pregnant woman and the life of her unborn child."

The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points for the December poll, and plus or minus 2.7 percentage points for the January poll. The Knights of Columbus have sponsored the survey annually since 2008. 

Young people at forefront of pro-life fight called 'new Magi' of movement

CHICAGO — More than 5,000 people from Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and other Midwestern states gathered Jan. 14 in Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago for the annual March for Life Chicago commemorating the 45th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

Participants carried signs with pro-life messages and balloons during the rally and march through the streets of downtown. The drum line from Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein played in the march.

Chris Murrens of Libertyville brought her two teen-age children to the march and said seeing the many youth and young adults in attendance was "heartwarming" and "inspirational."

"The heavenly Father is smiling. Our Lady is smiling. It's a great day," she told the Chicago Catholic, the archdiocesan newspaper.

Murrens said she brought her two teenagers because she felt it was important to expose them to the event and the message.

Young people, especially in their teens, are impressionable and open to new things so that is a pivotal time to share the Church's teaching that life is sacred from the womb until natural death, the mother of three said.

"This is when they see so much of what is going on in the world. This is the time when you can really grab their hearts and make a difference for the rest of their lives," she said.

Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich — one of several speakers who addressed the gathering prior to the march — applauded the witness of young people and, referring to the recent feast of Epiphany, called them "the new Magi."

"You give us confidence that the energy to protect the child in the womb has not grown weak over these 45 years, but is as youthful, strong and vibrant as you are," the cardinal said. "You are the new Magi in our time, who teach us all to keep our heads up, and amid the darkness of the night at times, to take heart that God is still in the heavens, guiding us like that Bethlehem star and keeping our dreams alive."

More pro-life marches were planned around the country in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orlando, Denver and more, in addition to the national march in Washington, D.C.

— Joyce Duriga, Catholic News Service 

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