Pro-lifers have been angered by moves by Democratic lawmakers to loosen restrictions on late-term abortions in the last month, but new research has found that even many pro-choice Americans have reservations about terminations up to the moment of birth.
A study by YouGov on behalf of Americans United for Life has found that a majority of Americans reject abortion the day before a child is born (80 per cent) and abortion in the third trimester (79 per cent). A similar proportion (82 per cent) opposed withdrawing medical care for a viable child after birth.
Even among pro-choice Americans, there was significant opposition to late-term abortions, with two-thirds saying they opposed abortion in the third trimester and over three-quarters (77 per cent) opposing the removal of medical care for a viable child.
Over two-thirds (68 per cent) of pro-choice Americans said they were opposed to an abortion taking place the day before a child is born.
Overall, the poll found that the number of pro-choice Americans slightly outnumbers those who are pro-life, at 53 per cent and 47 per cent respectively.
AUL President and CEO Catherine Glenn Foster said the findings showed that most Americans believe in the sanctity of life.
'This survey vividly reveals both the American people's common-sense appreciation for the sanctity of life and the widespread horror, even among self-identified pro-choice Americans, of new laws like New York's that effectively allow abortion up until the moment of delivery,' she said.
She added that the study had shown Democratic lawmakers to be 'out of step' with the values of ordinary pro-choice Americans.
'It is our hope that the critical information brought to light here will advance the democratic process by inspiring more Americans to hold their representatives and public institutions to account,' she said.
The poll was carried out after New York state governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill last month relaxing restrictions on abortions up to the point of birth.
Similar measures that would have allowed a woman to have an abortion even as she was giving birth were defeated in the Virginia legislature last month but a row still ensued between Republicans and Democrats after Virginia governor Ralph Northam described the hypothetical late-term abortion of a severely disabled baby.
'[Third trimester abortions are] done in cases where there may be severe deformities. There may be a fetus that's nonviable. So in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen,' he told WTOP FM.
'The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated, if that's what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.'
Northam was later forced to deny that he supported infanticide.
'I have devoted my life to caring for children and any insinuation otherwise is shameful and disgusting,' he said.