(CN) – A majority of Ohio voters oppose their state’s ban on abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Friday – though most people of faith do not.
The poll showed 52% oppose the ban and 39% support it. And while the results showed little gender difference, support for the ban is prevalent among white evangelical Christians (55-38), Protestants (47-44) and Catholics (48-44).
Those figures stand in stark contrast to the 69% of nonreligious Ohioans opposed to the ban.
Overall, Ohio voters stand behind the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade giving women the constitutional right to make their health decisions for themselves – though that also divides along religious lines. Republicans, white evangelical Christians and those who attend religious services weekly are more likely to disagree with Roe.
All other parties and religious groups support a woman’s right to choose, with some caveats: 22% say abortion should be legal in all cases and 33% support the right to choose in most cases. Another 27% say it should be illegal in most cases and 10% oppose abortion in all cases.
"When it comes to the thorny political issue of abortion, Ohio voters come down on the pro-choice side. They support the Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion, and by a smaller margin, they oppose the fetal heartbeat abortion ban," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, in a statement.
On July 3, a federal judge temporarily blocked Ohio’s enforcement Senate Bill 23, which would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. That can occur as early as six weeks, before many women even realize they are pregnant.
Supporters of the measure – which has also been passed in other states including Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi and North Dakota – welcomed the legal challenge from the ACLU. They want to take the case to the Supreme Court in hopes of overturning Roe, which legalized abortion up until 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy in 1973.
The Iowa and North Dakota heartbeat laws were blocked by courts because they conflict with Roe, and the Supreme Court declined to hear the North Dakota challenge. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed the Peach State's fetal-heartbeat abortion bill into law in May.
The Ohio heartbeat law makes no exceptions for cases for rape or incest, although it does provide exceptions if the life of the woman is in danger. It authorizes the use of transvaginal ultrasounds to detect fetal heartbeats, which allow the heartbeats to be detected earlier in a pregnancy.
The Ohio law also adds criminal penalties for doctors or other medical professionals who perform abortions after a heartbeat is detected or who do not perform either an abdominal or transvaginal ultrasound before performing an abortion.
Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,431 Ohio voters July 17-22. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.2 percentage points.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.