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Protestors outside City Hall on June 24, 2022. Credit: Jesse Zhang

The Penn Program on Opinion Research and Election Studies conducted a survey that found broad bipartisan support for abortion exemptions among Americans.

Ahead of the midterm elections in November, PORES, an undergraduate research organization that studies social issues of national and international importance, partnered with SurveyMonkey to conduct a national poll among 21,730 people in the U.S. The results found that a large majority of individuals, regardless of political leaning, were in favor of abortion rights in cases of rape, incest, and when the mother’s health is endangered.

According to the survey — which was conducted from Sept. 14 to Oct. 3 — 86% of American adults are of the belief that a pregnant person should be allowed to have an abortion if the pregnancy is a result of incest or rape. 94% of Democrats, 89% of Independents, and 76% of Republicans share that opinion.

The results of the survey — which has an empirical error estimate of plus or minus 4.5% — also indicated that 91% of people believed that abortion should be permitted if the health of the mother is endangered by the pregnancy.

In the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade — which prompted vocal reactions within the Penn community and Pennsylvania — eight out of 10 participants in the survey said that abortion was at least "somewhat important" to their vote, with 57% of voters labeling it "very important." 

John Lapinski, the Robert A. Fox Leadership Professor of Political Science, director of PORES, and director of elections at NBC News, told Penn Today, “The findings are very surprising as I don’t think anyone knew the extent that Republican public opinion is so strongly against policies that ban abortion in cases of rape and incest.”

Other questions on the survey, especially those that considered the personal choices of parties involved in abortion, were more divisive. For example, 59% of people thought a pregnant woman should be legally allowed to have an abortion in her first trimester as a matter of choice. This number decreased to 34% when the same question was asked about the second or third trimester.

According to the survey, two out of three people believed that abortion regulations should be decided by public referendum, as opposed to elected officials or judges.