As the Senate prepares to vote on the Amy Coney Barrett nomination to the Supreme Court, the people at the Pew Research Center have offered some findings about Catholics and abortion: 

In practice, Catholics’ views on abortion are not always aligned with the guidance of their church. Like U.S. adults overall, the majority of U.S. Catholics say abortion should be legal – at least in some cases – as do many Catholic legislators and other politicians. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who often describes himself as a devout Catholic, has said women have a constitutional right to abortion and has vowed to uphold Roe v. Wade, although he has in the past backed curbs on abortion.

Pew Research Center has asked Catholic adults their views on abortion many times over the years, including in a 2019 survey that addressed Roe directly. Here is a compilation of key findings from these surveys.

More than half of U.S. Catholics (56%) said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while roughly four-in-ten (42%) said it should be illegal in all or most cases, according to the 2019 Pew Research Center survey. Although most Catholics generally approve of legalized abortion, the vast majority favor at least some restrictions. For example, while roughly one-third of Catholics (35%) said abortion should be legal in most cases, only around one-fifth (21%) said it should be legal in all cases. By the same token, 28% of Catholics said abortion should be illegal in most cases, while half as many (14%) said it should be illegal in all cases.

Compared with other Christian groups analyzed in the data, Catholics were about as likely as White Protestants who are not evangelical (60%) and Black Protestants (64%) to support legal abortion, and much more likely than White evangelical Protestants (20%) to do so.

Catholics who regularly attend Mass show higher levels of opposition to abortion. Two-thirds of Catholics who attend Mass weekly or more often (67%) said abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, while one-in-three (33%) said it should be legal.

Like U.S. adults overall, most Catholics said in the 2019 survey that they oppose overturning Roe v. Wade. Roughly two-thirds of Catholics (68%) said they do not want the Supreme Court to completely overturn the landmark decision, while almost three-in-ten (28%) said the ruling should be overturned. This gap was almost identical to the division in the U.S. public overall (70% vs. 28%).

Those are for starters.Read the rest, including this intriguing finding:

Among Catholics, 44% had heard homilies that expressed opposition to abortion in the past month, while 12% had heard homilies that expressed support for legal abortion. Among Protestants, 33% had heard messages opposing abortion.

But not all Catholics trust their clergy’s advice on abortion, according to a survey conducted in 2019.

This sort of thing, of course, raises interesting questions about the methodology and accuracy of the results. You can read about the methodology for last year’s abortion survey here. 

Less clear is just who is considered “Catholic” in these kinds of surveys. Presumably, it’s essentially anyone with a baptism certificate — whether that individual actually practices the faith or not.

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