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A majority of Hoosiers support broad abortion rights, despite General Assembly's ban

Signs being held up at an abortion rights protest outside the Indiana Statehouse. The most visible sign reads "Abortion is a human right." Another reads "Pray for life and love." And another, in the background, says "This is fascism."
Eric Weddle
/
WFYI
About 57 percent of people polled in the Indiana Public Broadcasting/Ball State Hoosier Survey said abortion should be legal in most or all cases.

More than 80 percent of Hoosiers believe an abortion ban should have at least some exceptions. And more than half say abortion should be legal in most cases.

Those are results from the Indiana Public Broadcasting-Ball State Hoosier Survey.

About 78 percent of those polled say abortion should be legal in cases of rape or incest. And 62 percent say it should be legal if the fetus is likely to be born with severe disabilities or health problems.

Those results remain strong even among Republicans. For cases of rape or incest, 67 percent of those who identified as Republican in the poll said abortion should be legal. And for disabilities or health problems, 47 percent of Republicans said abortion should be legal – still more than the 44 percent who believe it shouldn't.

Indiana GOP lawmakers passed a ban this year that allows abortions only in some cases of rape or incest. And the law permits abortion if the fetus can’t survive outside the womb.

READ MORE: Abortion stays legal in Indiana through end of 2022; state Supreme Court to hear challenge to ban

Some conservatives want the state to restrict abortion further. But Bowen Center for Public Affairs Director Chad Kinsella said given these poll numbers, that’s a tough sell.

“It could be politically, a political landmine if – it’s a big if, capital I-F – if they go that route,” Kinsella said.

Abortion is a key issue to many Hoosiers. 77 percent of people in the poll described it as extremely or somewhat important.

And Kinsella noted that nearly half of those polled said they wouldn’t vote for a candidate whose abortion views were different from theirs.

"So, it's a lot more intense than what I thought. People still drew a pretty hard line in the sand," Kinsella said. "Those surprised me."

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Kinsella said numbers like that are also likely why the country didn't see a so-called "red wave" in this year's election. Republicans didn't dominate in many states the way many people expected. Even in Indiana, where the GOP won every statewide race by a comfortable margin, Republicans only gained one seat in the state Senate and lost a seat in the state House, while Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan (D-Highland) fended off a fierce challenge.

Kinsella said the intensity of the abortion issue, as reflected in the Hoosier Survey numbers, is likely a major reason why.

The Hoosier Survey polled 600 people in late October and early November. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points. The interviews were conducted by telephone (42 by landline and 257 by cell phone) and online.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.