Abortion is back in the news recently, as some Republican-led states have found a new way to effectively restrict abortions.New bills passed in Texas and North Carolina contain a key provision directing state officials to regulate abortion clinics based on the same standards as those for outpatient surgical centers.
Critics say that directive will force most abortion clinics to close in those states. As a result, only a handful of clinics will likely remain open in Texas, while all but one of North Carolina’s 16 clinics meet the standard.
Not surprisingly, opponents are furious. Appeals are planned in Texas.
“We are appalled that Gov. McCrory broke his campaign promise and we will do everything in our power to let the women of North Carolina know they cannot trust him to stand up to lawmakers intent on denying women access to safe and legal abortion,” said Paige Johnson, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Central NC.
McCrory, however, said he wasn’t limiting access to the procedure, but rather was signing a measure that “will result in safer conditions for North Carolina women.”
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Meanwhile, a new Pew Research Center poll found widening disparities in public attitudes on the issue across different regions of the country.
Opposition to legal abortion is highest in parts of the South – including Texas, which recently passed sweeping new abortion restrictions. The South Central region is the only one in which opposition to legal abortion has significantly increased since the mid-1990s.
By contrast, support for legal abortion remains highest in New England – and the gap between New England and South Central states has widened considerably over the past two decades.
The new survey, conducted July 17-21 among 1,480 adults, finds that just over half of all Americans (54%) say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Fewer (40%) say it should be illegal in all or most cases.
At the national level, public views on abortion have changed little over the last few years, and the balance of opinion has remained largely consistent for most of the past two decades (see: Views on Abortion, 1995-2013).
Texas joined 12 other states, mainly in the South and Midwest, that have banned abortions at no later than 22 weeks of pregnancy. (The new Texas law bans abortions at 20 weeks. Some of these other laws are temporarily blocked by court injunction.)
In polling conducted in 2012 and 2013, about half (49%) of the residents of these 13 states believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. By comparison, in the other 37 states and the District of Columbia, just 36% agree, while 58% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
These differences reflect a broader regional divide. New England residents are most likely to favor legalized abortion. Fully 75% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 20% say abortions should be illegal in all or most cases.
Roughly two-thirds (65%) in the Pacific Coast region, and solid majorities in the Mid-Atlantic (61%) and Mountain West (59%) also favor legal abortion.