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The widening regional divide over abortion

CNN
Tuesday, July 30, 2013 - 9:00am

 CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser

(CNN) -- As lawmakers in state capitals battle this summer over increasing restrictions on abortion, a new poll indicates where you live may determine your stance on the controversial issue.

According to a Pew Research Center survey released Monday, opposition to legal abortion is highest in the Southern Central part of the U.S., including Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry earlier this month signed into law a bill that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. By contrast, support for legal abortions remains highest in the Northeast (in particular New England) and the West Coast states.

The survey also indicates that while overall national attitudes on abortion have remained consistent over the past decade, the gap between New England and the Southern Central states has widened.

"There are signs that this regional disparity may be widening over time, as views in the South have turned more strongly against abortion," says a release by Pew.

According to the poll, in the 13 states that have laws banning abortions at either 22 weeks of pregnancy or earlier, 44% of those questioned say that abortions should be legal in all or most cases, with 49% saying they should be illegal in all or most cases.

But it's a different story in all other states (and the District of Columbia), with nearly six in ten saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with only 36% saying it should be illegal in all or most cases.

Republican governors in Ohio and Wisconsin recently signed into law increased abortion restrictions, and North Carolina lawmakers last week passed a similar measure.

On the federal level, the GOP-controlled House recently passed a late-term abortion ban bill, with only six Republicans voting against the measure and only six Democrats voting in support of it. The bill prohibits most abortions for women beyond their twentieth week of pregnancy.

Senate Republicans are considering sponsoring a similar measure. Such a bill would face major opposition in the Democratic controlled chamber, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said earlier this month that he would be open to allowing such a bill to be introduced.

The Pew Research Center poll was conducted July 17-21, with 1,480 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points. 

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