Abortion Access

New Poll Shows Americans Support Legal Abortion

  Rob Boston

A new poll underscores that Americans support legal abortion and don’t want to see it overturned.

The poll, conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News, found that 60% of Americans say that 1973’s Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that established the nationwide right to abortion, should be upheld. 27% said Roe should be overturned, and the rest had no opinion.

Americans also oppose Texas’ new draconian law that attempts to ban abortion by urging would-be vigilantes to seek $10,000 bounties by suing anyone who performs an abortion or assists someone in getting one.

Reported The Post, “Asked about a Texas law that authorizes private citizens anywhere in the country to sue anyone who performs or aids someone in obtaining an abortion in Texas after about six weeks of pregnancy, the Post-ABC poll finds 65 percent say the court should reject the law, while 29 percent say it should be upheld.”

Here are some other findings from the poll:

  • 58% of Americans oppose state laws that make it more difficult for abortion clinics to operate (and 45% oppose them “strongly”), while 36% support these laws.
  • 75% say abortion should be a matter between a woman and her doctor; only 20 percent backed regulating the issue by law.
  • 58% of white evangelical Protestants want to see Roe overturned. Among Catholics, 62% favor retaining Roe. 73% of those who say they identify with no religious group support keeping Roe.

The results are in line with other polls that have found strong support for legal abortion. Yet despite this clear public sentiment, it’s possible that the Supreme Court will later this year overturn Roe.

A case pending before the high court, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, will determine the constitutionality of a law in Mississippi that bans abortions after the 15th week. The law is a direct attack on Roe, and several anti-abortion legislators and groups have asked the court to use it as a vehicle to overturn the nearly 50-year-old ruling.

In a legal brief filed in September, Americans United (joined by the American Humanist Association, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, and the Interfaith Alliance Foundation) took a much different approach: We reminded the court that Roe establishes an important secular standard that respects freedom of conscience in a nation of people of diverse faiths and those the non-religious.

“Abandoning the viability standard would erase the only credibly coherent line anyone has yet identified that preserves even a modicum of respect for the many different faith perspectives that the people of this nation hold dear,” observes AU’s brief. “Any newly minted substitute would not just take sides on what for many people are irreducibly spiritual matters, but also require religious dissenters to live according to official diktats.”

The brief concludes, “This Court should not be quick to defenestrate a legal standard that has for half a century avoided compounding the most bitter religiously based political and social strife, thus helping us live in relative harmony despite deep, fundamental, and otherwise seemingly irreconcilable religious differences.”

Thus, if the Supreme Court jettisons Roe, it will not only defy public opinion, but it will also fling open the door to sectarian strife. The court can avoid that by doing the right thing and respecting precedent.

P.S. To read more about this issue, check out this column by Kelly Percival, counsel for the Brennan Center and former legal fellow at Americans United. This piece by the Rev. Dr. Rollin Russell from this month’s issue of Church & State is also worth your time, and don’t miss this recent column by AU President and CEO Rachel Laser.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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