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More than 60% of Americans say abortion should be legal, poll finds

In the two years after the US supreme court overturned Roe v Wade, leading to abortion bans across many parts of the south and midwest, abortion rights have only grown more popular, new polling from Pew research Center has found.

A majority of Americans has long supported abortion rights. But more than 60% of Americans now believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases – a four percentage-point jump from 2021, the year before Roe fell.

This support transcends numerous demographic divides in US society: most men, women, white people, Black people, Hispanic people and Asian people believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. It extends to majorities of all age groups and education levels, although 18-to-29-year-olds and people with more education are more likely than other cohorts to believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

People who live under abortion bans have also become increasingly supportive of abortion access since the overturning of Roe in June 2022. In August 2019, only 30% of people who live in states where abortion is now outlawed said they believed it should be easier to access abortion. Today, 42% of people in the same states say that.

The broad support for abortion may prove pivotal in the upcoming US elections – Joe Biden’s re-election campaign has zeroed in on abortion as a winning issue as the president continues to trail Donald Trump in polls. Battleground states such as Arizona and Nevada are expected to hold ballot measures to protect abortion rights, which Democrats hope will boost both voter turnout and their own chances.

Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to support abortion rights, with 85% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters believing that abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances. By contrast, 41% of Republican or Republican-leaning voters said the same.

GOP opposition to abortion is largely fueled by conservative Republicans, since more than 70% who identify as such think abortion should be illegal in all or most circumstances. More than two-thirds of moderate and liberal Republicans support abortion rights, Pew found.

Among the groups measured by Pew, conservative Republicans and white evangelical Protestants were the only groups with majorities that opposed abortion access. Nearly three-quarters of white evangelical Protestants think abortion should be illegal in all or most circumstances.

Some people’s views of abortion did grow more complex the deeper Pew inquired. Most groups that support abortion rights ultimately thought abortion should be legal in “most” circumstances, rather than “all”. In other polling on abortion, support for the procedure tends to dwindle when people are asked whether they would back abortions in the second or third trimester of pregnancy.

More strikingly, Pew also asked Americans to evaluate how much they agreed with certain statements about abortion. More than half of Americans agreed with the statement that “the decision about whether to have an abortion should belong solely to the pregnant woman”, while only 35% of Americans say they agreed that “human life begins at conception, so an embryo is a person with rights” – a stance that would logically lead them to oppose abortion.

Yet a third of Americans said that both statements describe their views to some extent, even though those statements clash.

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Last modified: May 14, 2024