New Study Finds That Americans’ Opinions on Abortion Can Be Confusing and Polarizing

American Pastors Network: How Should the Church Respond?

As the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would outlaw abortions past 20 weeks of pregnancy, the American Culture & Faith Institute is releasing a new survey on Americans’ views on abortion, which, say the researchers, can be confusing and polarizing.

According to ACFI and lead researcher George Barna, who is a frequent guest on the American Pastors Network radio ministry “Stand in the Gap Today,” 47 percent of adults claim to be pro-choice, substantially more than the 38 percent who claim to be pro-life. Another 8 percent said they held neither position, and the remaining 8 percent were not sure.

“However,” Barna reported, “when the intensity of one’s position is taken into account, the difference between the two sides is reduced. Overall, 31 percent said they were strongly pro-choice compared to 24 percent who said they were strongly pro-life.”

APN board member and “Stand in the Gap Today” co-host Gary Dull said news about the study and the pain-capable act are especially timely in October—Abortion Recovery Awareness Month and Respect Life Month.

“In the church, we can’t assume that every person sitting in the pews is passionately and strongly pro-life,” Dull said. “They may be confused about their views on abortion, or they may waver with the culture or even with personal experience. That’s why is still crucial that pastors and the church stand up for life and not take for granted that all churchgoers realize that God created every life in His image from the moment of conception. He values these unborn children of God and has placed them in our protection.”

The ACFI study also found that 56 percent of Americans want abortion to be legal, but that view is dependent upon the circumstances:

  • Less than one-quarter (23 percent) want abortion to be legal under any and all circumstances.
  • One-third (33 percent) want abortion to be legal under most but not all circumstances.
  • Another one-quarter (24 percent) want the practice to be illegal under most circumstances.
  • Only one out of 10 adults (10 percent) wants to outlaw abortion in all situations.
  • 11 percent were not sure.

A double-digit percentage of those surveyed are also confused about the morality of abortion, with 36 percent stating that abortion is immoral, while close to one-fourth (23 percent) say abortion is a moral act, while a similar proportion (24 percent) says that abortion is not a moral issue. The remaining 16 percent do not know.

Still more perplexing are Americans’ contradictory views on the legalization of abortion. One-third say abortion is murder and yet they believe it should be legal. Three out of 10 adults (29 percent) argue that life starts at conception and yet they support the legalization of abortion.

Dull added that pastors and churches should especially pay attention to the views on the value of life, as Americans provided numerous answers on what makes a human life valuable:

  • 38 percent say that people are made in the image of God or that life is a gift from God.
  • 17 percent said that life is of value by the mere fact that we exist, while the same proportion attributed the value of life to our potential to become something greater or more productive.
  • 14 percent said the value of life comes from what we are able to accomplish.
  • 4 percent think life matters and is valued because humans can identify a purpose for living.
  • 2 percent said life does not have value.
  • 8 percent said they are not sure how to identify whether and why life has value.

Read the full American Culture & Faith Institute study here.

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