Abortion Access

Shifting Public Opinion on Abortion Rights: Rejecting Extremism and Embracing Choice

  Rhys Long

Shifting Public Opinion on Abortion Rights: Rejecting Extremism and Embracing Choice

In a recent appearance before a Christian Nationalist organization, Donald Trump cited the overturning of Roe v. Wade – and his appointment of three of the six justices who voted to do so – as the capstone of his presidency. Mike Pence asked the field of GOP presidential candidates to unilaterally support a national 15-week abortion ban. Ron DeSantis showcased the six-week abortion ban he signed in Florida as evidence of his commitment to the anti-abortion cause.

Across the field, GOP hopefuls continue to tout the overturning of Roe v. Wade as a major conservative accomplishment. That’s ironic because public opinion has only shifted in favor of abortion rights since Roe’s demise.

The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling shook up what was a tenuous-but-static truce around abortion rights. With the influx of state abortion bans and radical rhetoric, the contentious issue of abortion went from a tabled conversation to a dinner table conversation overnight. With millions of people suddenly in fear of – and actually experiencing – the loss of their right to safe abortions, public opinion began to shift.

Americans support abortion rights

In light of the Dobbs ruling, recent polling around abortion has revealed that the majority of Americans now believe abortion to be morally acceptable and believe that abortion laws are too strict. Nearly 70% of Americans believe abortion should be generally legal during the first trimester, while the percentage who think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances has fallen from 21% to 13% from 2019 to 2023. This shift directly coincides with the increased attacks on abortion rights, creating dissonance between the laws being passed and the will of the American people.

Americans, now more than ever, are supportive of the right to safe and legal abortions. So why is the anti-abortion stance such a popular one among the GOP? The answer, unsurprisingly, is that Christian Nationalists and other religious extremists have made it a cornerstone of their agenda. And Christian Nationalists have so earnestly and aggressively situated themselves within right-wing politics that they can play up culture war issues and generate bills in their favor, regardless of public opinion.

Rejecting extremism

But the culture war issues of Christian Nationalists are losing steam. Most people took abortion rights for granted, and extremists took advantage of that to enforce their religious convictions upon the country. But, as the studies show, Americans are increasingly identifying as pro-choice and rejecting the arguments of anti-abortion groups. The religious extremism underlying many abortion bans is losing traction – something Christian Nationalists do not seem to realize, as they continually strengthen their calls for archaic bans on abortion.

Christian Nationalists are operating under the assumption that no one will stand up to them. They believe that they have the right to institute religiously backed, harmful laws that will negatively affect millions of Americans. But religious liberty does not grant the right to destroy medical freedom across the nation. Many Americans, tired of having their rights curtailed by religious extremists, have come to this same conclusion.

Congress needs to hear from you!

Urge your legislators to co-sponsor the Do No Harm Act today.

The Do No Harm Act will help ensure that our laws are a shield to protect religious freedom and not used as a sword to harm others by undermining civil rights laws and denying access to health care.

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