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What the Millennial Generation Tells Us about the Future of the Abortion Debate and the Culture Wars

Sponsor: Public Religion Research Institute and Brookings Institution
Released: 2011-06

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Views on abortion vary significantly by age, religion, race, education, political affiliation, and geographic region. However, there are no significant gender differences in views about the legality of abortion. Attitudes among the Millenial generation (ages 18 to 29) do not significantly differ from attitudes in the general population about the legality of abortion. Six-in-ten Millenials believe that abortion should be legal in all (22%) or most (38%) cases, compared to approximately 4-in-10 who say abortion should be illegal in all (13%)or most (25%) cases. Americans ages 65 and older are the only age group that differs significantly from the general public. Among this older age cohort, about 4-in-10 say abortion should be legal in all (14%) or most (29%) cases, compared to half who say it should be illegal in all (17%) or most (33%) cases.

With the exception of white evangelical Protestants, majorities of all other major religious groups favor legalized abortion. At least two-thirds of religiously unaffiliated Americans (69%), white mainline Protestants (67%), and black Protestants (66%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. A majority (54%) of all Catholics say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, including 51% of Latino Catholics. Among white evangelical Protestants, however, less than 3-in-10 (29%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared to two-thirds (67%) who say it should be illegal in all or most cases.