Topline

Abortion is the biggest reason Americans are taking to the streets in public protests, according to a new Gallup poll released Wednesday, as states grapple with ballot measures and court rulings deciding the fate of the procedure.

Key Facts

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Of the 39% of Americans who say they would join or organize a protest, 31% listed abortion as the reason for protesting, followed by Black Lives Matter (22%), women’s rights (19%), civil or equal rights (11%) ) and other government issues (10%), according to the Gallup poll,

Even though it’s not a significant jump from the 36% of people who were urged to join protests in 2018, the reasons for the protests have changed substantially, from 17% who named women’s rights in the early months of the “Me Too” movement, 13% who said gun control, 13% who said immigration, and only 6% that said abortion.

Abortion showed the biggest leap in polling (up 25 percentage points from 6% in 2018), with only “law enforcement/police brutality/Black Lives Matter” coming close (up 16 points from 6%), likely the result of the 2020 protests following the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide Black Lives Matter rallies that followed — a July 2020 Gallup poll found 11% of US adults participated in the protests for racial justice.

Democrats were much more likely to feel an urge to protest on issues across the board, with 18% saying they would join or organize a public demonstration on abortion (over 8% of Republicans), 16% would join or organize law enforcement, police brutality or Black Lives Matter protests (1% of Republicans), and 15% would join or organize women’s rights or “Me Too” protests (1% of Republicans).

Key Background

The poll was conducted between July 5-26, in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and leave abortion bans up to individual states. The decision sparked nationwide protests, largely in favor of protecting women's rights to legal abortions. Recent polls, however, show Americans' views on abortion are much more nuanced. A Pew Research Center poll found 59% support legalized abortion, while 59% in a January CNN poll said they would support abortion laws in their state that are “more permissive than restrictive,” while only 20% would support a ban in their state. Another poll conducted by the Associated Press/NORC found much higher support for abortion when the mother's life is in danger (87%), in cases of rape or incest (84%) and when the child faces a life-threatening illness (74%).

Surprising Fact

Americans are nearly four times as likely to protest as they were in 1965, even as the Civil Rights Movement gained steam. Only 10% of said to organize or join a public demonstration in 1965, according to the report.

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