A majority of African Americans believe that abortion is morally wrong but still think it should be legally available. According to a poll of blacks and Hispanics conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute.
Hispanics on the other hand had a closer correlation between their views of abortion’s morality and its legal status.
A total of 52 percent of black Americans who find abortion to be morally wrong think that it should be legal in all or almost all cases, compared to only 25 percent of Hispanics who believe the same, according to the poll. This was a significant change from the 2011 survey, which had identified that 67 percent of black Americans and 46 percent of Hispanics in total think that abortion should be legal.
Significantly, both Hispanic and African-Americans preferred the phrases “pro-life” and “pro-choice” to describe themselves. Seventy-one percent of black Americans and 77 percent of Hispanics said that “pro-life” describes them very well, but at the same time 75 percent of black Americans and 72 percent of Hispanics said the same of the phrase “pro-choice.” While that position may appear to be a contradiction, it demonstrates that for many people the question of abortion is more nuanced than just for abortion or against it—for instance, many people could be opposed to abortion for themselves but don’t presume to restrict another woman’s right to choose.
“Like most Americans, black Americans and Hispanic Americans bring a complex set of identities to the issue of abortion,” said Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute. “For example, majorities of both black Americans and Hispanic Americans simultaneously identify as both ‘pro-choice’ and ‘pro-life.’”
There was a considerable difference between blacks and Hispanics in terms of how much they heard about abortion at church. While 54 percent of Hispanics who attend service at least once or twice a month reported that they heard about abortion at church, while the figure for blacks was 30 percent. Also 68 percent of black churchgoers said their church preaches that abortion is morally wrong, compared to 84 percent of Hispanics. Hispanics Catholics were much more likely to hear about abortion than Hispanic Protestants, by a margin of 62 to 41 percent.
Churchgoers also said that despite what clergy tells them, they are able to keep their own views and disagree on the legality of abortion, yet still be considered good Christians. Seventy-eight percent of black Americans agreed with the statement, compared to 60 percent of Hispanics.
“Among black Americans and Hispanic Americans, religion plays an important role in shaping attitudes on abortion,” said Daniel Cox, PRRI Director. “However, the messages that both groups receive from clergy are less consequential than other religious factors, like identifying as an evangelical Christian.”
To conduct the poll, the Public Religion Research Institute surveyed 810 non-Hispanic black American adults and 813 Hispanic American adults between June 14 and June 23, 2012.