Which religious groups’ members are most likely to identify as pro-choice?

Jamie BallardData Journalist
May 13, 2022, 5:31 PM GMT+0

In light of the recent news that the Supreme Court may be poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, some have argued that limiting access to abortion is a violation of religious freedom. Several Jewish and Muslim leaders have said that their faiths expressly support abortion in some cases.

In a YouGov analysis of polling data on abortion from the past year, atheists are the most likely to identify as pro-choice, at 91%, among groups defined by their religious faith or attitude toward religion. Agnostics come in next, with 83% who say they are pro-choice. Just over three-quarters (77%) of Jewish people say they’re pro-choice, along with 76% of Buddhists.

Most people (63%) who say their religion is “nothing in particular” also take a pro-choice stance, followed by 56% of Muslims.

Roman Catholics, whose religion forbids abortion, are nearly evenly split, with 46% identifying as pro-choice and 47% as pro-life.

Among Americans whose religion is Eastern or Greek Orthodox, 44% say they are pro-choice while slightly more (49%) are pro-life.

Protestants (38%) and Mormons (25%) are among the least likely to say they are pro-choice. Majorities of Prostestants (57%) and Mormons (69%) are pro-life.

Among members of Protestant denominations, which ones are more pro-choice or pro-life?

There are many denominations under the umbrella of Protestantism, and each denomination’s members have slightly differently views on abortion.

Protestants who belong to the Episcopalian church (68%) or the Congregational or United Church of Christ (64%) are most likely to identify as pro-choice. Most Presbyterians (56%) also identify as pro-choice, as do 52% of Methodists.

Protestants who are part of the Holiness movement are the least likely of the Protestant groups studied to identify as pro-choice, at 21%. But they aren’t the most likely to identify as pro-life: That is the members of the Reform movement, 69% of whom say they are pro-life. 

Among men and women of the same religion, women are more likely to be pro-choice.

Men and women of the same religious affiliation tend to have similar views on abortion, though women often are more likely to identify as strongly pro-choice. However, there are some differences worth noting.

Among Catholic men, 41% say they are pro-choice and 54% are pro-life. But Roman Catholic women are more likely to be pro-choice (50%) than pro-life (41%).

There’s an even larger gap between men and women in the Eastern or Greek Orthodox faiths. While just 31% of men identify themselves as pro-choice, twice as many women (62%) do. Among Eastern or Greek Orthodox women, 42% say they are strongly pro-choice while just 13% of men share this view. The inverse is also true: 63% of men in this religion are pro-life, while just 30% of women are.

The only faith analyzed in which men are more likely than women to identify as pro-choice is Buddhism. Four in five (81%) Buddhist men say they are pro-choice, compared with 71% of Buddhist women.

Jewish women (72%) are more likely than Jewish men (55%) to say they are strongly pro-choice. A similar gap exists among agnostics: 74% of women and 59% of men are strongly pro-choice.

Related: Most Americans don’t want Roe v. Wade overturned, but it was widely expected even before the leak

Methodology: 37,401 U.S. adults were surveyed between May 1, 2021 and May 1, 2022 for the estimates across religions; 17,559 U.S. adults were surveyed between May 8, 2021 and May 8, 2022 for the estimates across Protestant denominations. The responding sample is weighted to be representative of the U.S. population.

Image: Unsplash

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