Here’s how Utahns and Latter-day Saints really feel about abortion

While 42% of Utah residents believe abortion should be allowed in all or most cases, just 32% of Latter-day Saints agree.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) People gather for a rally in defense of abortion rights at the Capitol after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, June 24, 2022. According to a new national survey, 42% of Utahns “favor or strongly favor” the demise of the landmark ruling.

There are more Utahns who believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases than those who think it should be completely banned, according to a nationwide survey. But Utah is one of only seven states where less than half of residents support few or no restrictions.

According to the Public Religion Research Institute, Utah has the lowest percentage of residents — at 42% — who want abortion to be allowed, for the most part. The Beehive State also, however, joins many blue states in the proportion of residents who feel there should be no abortion, whatsoever, landing in the single digits at 5%.

Utah’s near-ban on abortion, which is held up in court, includes exceptions for victims of rape and incest, when the life of the mother is at risk and in the case of a fetal abnormality that is “incompatible with life.” The Legislature is considering bills that would prohibit abortion clinics from operating in the state and that would cut off the exception for rape and incest victims at 18 weeks.

Although abortion laws vary widely throughout the U.S., thirteen states currently have a total abortion ban, and nine of those states don’t make exceptions for rape and incest.

The Utah trigger law initially went into effect in June when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, under which abortion was previously considered a constitutional right. A few days later, a district court judge placed a temporary restraining order on the law, and eventually issued a temporary injunction stopping it. Abortions are currently banned after 18 weeks in Utah.

Per the PRRI survey, 42% of Utahns “favor or strongly favor” the end of Roe v. Wade. That number appears to be buoyed up by the nearly two-thirds of residents who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As part of its research, PRRI reportedly surveyed 369 Latter-day Saints — although it’s unclear what states they live in. Of those polled, the majority favor abortion restrictions.

They answered as follows: 9% believe abortion should be legal in all cases, 23% believe it should be legal in most cases, 57% believe it should be illegal in most cases and 10% believe it should be illegal in all cases.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with 52%, joins white evangelical Protestants in being the only major religious group in which more than half of adherents support the overturn of the landmark Roe ruling. And it’s one of four major religious groups in which less than half of adherents say that abortion should be legal in most or all cases.

Latter-day Saints also happen to be the fourth least educated on their states’ abortion laws, according to the survey. Approximately 40% said they weren’t sure whether abortion was legal or not in their state.

The church’s official stance on abortion mirrors what is not — and what is — allowed under Utah’s paused abortion ban. It views abortion as a sin except in cases of rape or incest, when the mother’s life is at risk, or when “the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.”

Several Utah religious communities and their leaders — of Christian, Jewish and Islamic persuasions — filed an amicus brief last month in support of the lawsuit challenging Utah’s trigger law. The Utah Supreme Court is currently hearing an interlocutory appeal on the injunction blocking that law.