Topline

The Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and let states outlaw abortion, according to a draft opinion reported by Politicoand while a review of national polls shows many Americans consistently split between identifying between the partisan labels “pro-choice” or “pro-life,” a clear majority supports keeping the procedure legal—though that support drops quickly depending on the circumstance.

Key Facts

- Advertisement -

Broad support for abortion rights: Gallup polls show Americans’ support for abortion in all or most cases at 80% in May 2021, only sightly higher than in 1975 (76%), and the Pew Research Center finds 59% of adults believe abortion should be legal, compared to 60% in 1995—though there has been fluctuation, with support dropping to a low of 47% in 2009.

The share of Americans in Gallup’s poll who say abortion is morally acceptable reached a record high of 47% in May, up from a low of 36% in 2009, and a Quinnipiac poll found support for abortion being legal in all or most cases reached a near-record high in September with 63% support.

Steady support for Roe: Support for the Supreme Court’s abortion precedent in Roe v. Wade is similar, with a November Quinnipiac poll finding that 63% agree with the court’s ruling; and 72% of Law School in January poll and 69% of January CNN poll Oppose it being overturned.

If Roe is overturned: A January CNN poll found a 59% majority want their state to have laws that are “more permissive than restrictive” on abortion if Roe goes away, while only 20% want their state to ban abortion entirely (another 20% want it to be restricted but not banned) .

Strongest support for abortion—within limits: An Associated Press/NORC poll in June found 87% support abortion when the woman’s life is in danger, 84% support exceptions in the case of rape or incident, and 74% support abortion if the child would be born with a life-threatening illness.

When abortion support drops: The further into the pregnancy, with AP/NORC finding 61% believe abortion should be legal during the first trimester, but only 34% in the second trimester and 19% in the third, and an April Wall Street Journal poll finding more Americans approve of 15-week abortion bans than disapprove.

Partisan split—but not in all cases: Democrats are statistically far more likely to support abortion rights than Republicans, with Quinnipiac finding in September that only 39% of Republicans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases versus 89% of Democrats—though 70% and 76% of Republicans support exceptions for rape and incest and when the mother’s life is at risk, respectively.

The religious support abortion rights—except for White evangelicals: Pew found Americans with religious affiliations are far more likely to oppose abortion than the nonreligious (82% of whom believe abortion should be legal), but with the exception of white evangelical Protestants (77% of whom believe abortion should be illegal), a higher share of every religious group polled—white non-evangelicals, Black Protestants and Catholics—favor abortion rights.

Gender split—not as big as you might think: Women are slightly more likely to support abortion than men, with Pew finding 62% of women want abortion to be legal versus 56% of men.

Asian Americans most supportive: Pew’s polling found majorities of every race support abortion being legal, though support was higher among Black (67% believe should be legal) and Asian (68%) than those who are white and Hispanic (57% and 58%, respectively).

Support drops with age: The Pew poll found support for abortion highest among those ages 18-29 (67% believe should be legal), compared with 61% of those 30-49, 53% of those ages 50-64 and 55% of those ages 65 and up .

Support increases with more education: Pew found 68% of college grads want it legalized versus 61% of those with some college and 50% with a high school education or less (a Washington Post/ABC poll found a similar correlation).

Parents less likely to support abortion rights: All In Together’s poll, conducted in September with Lake Research and Emerson College Polling, found 36% of those with children in their house opposed the Texas near-total abortion ban versus 54.9% without kids, and the Post/ABC poll similarly found 58% of parents want the Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade versus 62% of non-parents.

Cities support more: Those in the Northeast are the most supportive of abortion rights, with the Post/ABC finding 71% there want Roe v. Wade to be held up versus 58% in the Midwest, 53% in the South and 66% in the West, and urban residents are more likely to support Roe v. Wade (with 69% support) than those in suburban or rural areas (56% and 57%, respectively).

Support rises with income level: The Post/ABC poll found 59% of those earning less than $50,000 per year wanting the court to uphold the law versus 62% of those making between $50,000-$100,000 and 65% of those earning more than $100,000.