The national poll found support for a law requiring child support payments beginning at conception among Democrats, Republicans and Independents; and pro-life and pro-choice respondents.
LEWISBURG, Pa. — The Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade has amplified the country’s deep divide on abortion. But according to a new Bucknell Institute for Public Policy (BIPP) survey, the nation appears to be unified on the need for a law that would require child support payments beginning at conception.
The Bucknell poll, conducted by YouGov America, surveyed 1,500 people between June 13 and 23. It found that child support payments beginning at conception were favored by nearly half of all respondents (47%), including Democrats (53%), Republicans (47%) and Independents (40%), as well as people who describe themselves as pro-life (46%) and pro-choice (49%). That compared with 28% who opposed it, and 25% who weren’t sure.
“It’s almost impossible to find political common ground on the issue of abortion,” says Professor Chris Ellis ’00, political science, co-director of BIPP. “But the issue of supporting pregnant women is an exception: if a fetus is going to be defined as a person, Americans of all political stripes agree that child support laws should change to match.”
Utah passed a 2021 state law that requires biological fathers to pay half of a woman’s out-of-pocket pregnancy costs. U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) also introduced a 2020 bill for the “Unborn Child Support Act.” There has been increased political discussion about the topic in the wake of the Supreme Court decision on abortion.
“The logistics of how such policies would work is unknown, and opinions could change as details become more clear,” Ellis says. “But for politicians who want to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to supporting pregnant women, the public support is there.”
While the BIPP survey found little gender gap on abortion, there was one evident in regard to child support payments beginning at conception. Overall, 52% of women favored the idea of a law, compared to 39% of men. The divide was even greater among Democrats, with 61% of Democratic women favoring the proposal, compared to 40% of men.
“Abortion is one of the few political issues on which men and women from the same party have basically the same positions. But child support for pregnant women is a different matter,” Ellis says.
Overall, the survey found that the nation still leans toward federal protection of women’s right to choose— 44% in favor, compared to 39% who believe the governance should be left to the states to decide. But that support breaks sharply along party lines, with 73% of Democrats supporting protection by the federal government, compared to 11% of Republicans and 40% of Independents. Republicans favored abortion being left to states at 68%, compared to 14% of Democrats and 44% of Independents.
There’s also party division on prohibiting women from obtaining legal abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with 69% of Republicans favoring a state law, compared to 28% of Democrats and 45% of Independents. Men and women were similar in their support, with 48% of men and 44% of women supporting a law.