Washington (CNN) – About one in four Americans say that abortion should be legal in all circumstances, one in five say abortion should always be illegal, and slightly over half the public thinks abortion should be legal in some, but not all, circumstances, according to a national poll released Thursday.
A CNN/ORC International survey also indicates that a majority opposes taxpayer money being used to pay for abortions for women who can't afford the procedure, with Americans split on whether women who receive government subsidies for health insurance should be able to get a plan that covers abortions.
The poll's release came just a couple of hours before the start of the Conservative Political Action Conference.
The three-day event, better known by its initials, CPAC, is the largest annual gathering of conservative leaders and activists, and the issue of abortion is often in the spotlight. But this year, some social conservative leaders have criticized conference organizers for what they say is a lack of emphasis on the issue of abortion.
According to the poll, 27% say that abortion should be legal in all circumstances, 13% say it should be legal in most circumstances, 38% say that it should be legal in few circumstances, and 20% say abortion should always be illegal.
"Not surprisingly, abortion remains an issue on which there are wide partisan differences," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
"Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to say that abortion should always be illegal. But only a minority of the rank-and-file members of both parties take an extreme position on the issue, with just 31% of Republicans calling for a complete ban on abortion and just 32% of Democrats saying that abortion should be legal in all circumstances."
Most Americans have never favored using public funds for abortions for women who cannot afford them. According to the survey, 56% remain opposed, with only 39% favoring public funding for abortions.
But that sentiment does not appear to extend to government subsidies for health insurance. The poll indicates the public is split right down the middle, with 49% saying that women who receive government subsidies for health insurance should be able to get a plan that covers abortion services and an identical 49% disagreeing.
The Republican-controlled House passed a bill in late January banning abortion coverage in federally subsidized Obamacare plans. But the measure stands little chance of getting a vote in the Democratic-run Senate.
The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International from Jan. 31 through Feb. 2, with 1,010 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report