WASHINGTON — For all the recent tumult over abortion, one thing has remained surprisingly stable: Americans have proved extremely consistent in their beliefs about the procedure – and extremely conflicted in their views. A solid majority long have felt that Roe v. Wade should be upheld. Yet most support at least some restrictions on when abortions can be performed. Most think having an abortion should be a personal choice. But they also think it is murder. “Rock solid in its absolutely contradictory opinions” is how public opinion expert Karlyn Bowman describes the nation’s mind-set. If public opinion is stable, the political landscape is anything but. The arrival of two new justices on the Supreme Court has stoked speculation about how abortion laws could be affected. Also, there has been a flurry of action at the state level to ban or sharply restrict access to the procedure. In 2005, states enacted 52 measures to restrict access to abortion, according to the private Guttmacher Institute, and more are pending. Most notably, South Dakota this month outlawed almost all abortions. Supporters hope the move will provoke a legal challenge that results in the new, more conservative Supreme […]

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