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Nearly six out of ten people in the United States support legal abortion in "most or all" cases, according to a new poll conducted by the Associated Press and GfK. (Photo: Reuters)

Nearly six out of ten people in the United States support legal abortion in "most or all" cases, according to a new poll conducted by the Associated Press and GfK. (Photo: Reuters)

Despite Soaring Support for Abortion Rights, Anti-Choice Crusade Continues

New poll conducted in wake of deadly attack on Planned Parenthood clinic finds public support for abortion rights at highest point in two years

Sarah Lazare

Public support for legal abortion in the United States is at its highest point in two years, with nearly six out of ten people backing the reproductive right, according to a new poll (pdf) conducted in the wake of last month's mass shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic that killed three people.

The Associated Press and GfK, which jointly conducted the survey, found that 58 percent of respondents say abortion should be legal in "most or all" cases. This marks a jump from 51 percent at the beginning of the year. The poll is based on surveys of 1,007 adults conducted in early December, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Notably, the hike reflects an incremental rise in support among respondents who identify as Republican, with 40 percent backing legal abortion, up from 35 percent in January. Seventy-six percent of Democrats responded in the affirmative, compared to 54 percent of Independents.

The climbing public support comes as reproductive healthcare is under assault across the country. The late-November deadly attack on a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood came amid a growing political push—at the state and federal levels—to defund and shutter Planned Parenthood clinics.

But the anti-choice crusade extends far beyond Planned Parenthood. According to a report released earlier this month by the Center for Reproductive Rights, during 2015 alone, state legislatures introduced nearly 400 bills and implemented 47 new laws restricting reproductive rights.

The Guttmacher Institute put this number higher in a report released in July, finding that in the first half of 2015 alone, states enacted 51 new curbs to abortion rights, bringing the total number of restrictions imposed since 2010 to 282. These restrictions include increased waiting periods, constraints on medication abortions, and outright prohibitions of the procedure after the first trimester.

In many cases, state laws hike the costs, and slash access, to abortions, disproportionately impacting low-income communities and people of color. For example, 11 U.S. states restrict most coverage of abortion care in government insurance plans, according to a separate Guttmacher brief released earlier this month. And Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws—now in effect in 25 states—impose prohibitive requirements on providers, cutting off access.

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