Most Americans believe that fetuses in the womb are people and that people who kill a fetus in a violent attack should be charged with murder
Last month saw the shocking attack of a pregnant woman in Longmont, Colorado where a knife-wielding attacker cut her unborn child out of her womb leaving the woman severely injured and the unborn baby dead. Unusually, however, the accused Dynel Lane is not facing murder charges for the death of the unborn child. Unlike in many states a person cannot be prosecuted in Colorado for killing a fetus as the state requires 'proof of live birth' to consider the death to be murder. Last year Colorado voters resoundingly rejected a constitutional amendment which would have included unborn children under the definition of 'person' in the state.
YouGov's latest research shows that the vast majority of Americans (66%) think that fetuses in the womb are people. Only 16% think that fetuses are not people. A majority of every demographic group believes that fetuses are people, though Democrats and people who earn over $80,000 a year (both 56%) are the least likely to say that fetuses are people. Furthermore, another 76% of Americans think that if a fetus is killed in the course of a violent attack on a pregnant woman the attacker should be charged with murder.
Most Americans (52%) believe that life starts at conception. A further 20% believe that life begins when a fetus is able to survive outside of the womb, while 18% think that it only begins at the moment of birth. Attitudes towards when, exactly, life begins differ greatly according to age. While 63% of over-65s and 61% of people aged 45 to 64 believe that life begins at conception, only 36% of under-30s agree with them. Just under half of under-30s either believe that life begins when a fetus can survive (25%) or at birth (22%).
Asked broadly about abortion rights, 56% of Americans think that abortion should not be legal on request, with 17% saying that it should never be allowed and 39% saying that it should only be allowed in certain special cases. 16% support abortion until the first trimester, while 9% support it until the point of survivability. 20% believe that abortion should always be legal.