Key facts about the abortion debate in America

JULY 15, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2022 ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade – the decision that had guaranteed a constitutional right to an abortion for nearly 50 years – has shifted the legal battle over abortion to the states, with some prohibiting the procedure and others moving to safeguard it.

As the nation’s post-Roe chapter begins, here are key facts about Americans’ views on abortion, based on two Pew Research Center polls: one conducted from June 25-July 4, just after this year’s high court ruling, and one conducted in March, before an earlier leaked draft of the opinion became public.


More than half of Americans say they are ‘pro-choice,’ the most since 1995, Gallup finds

THU, JUN 2 2022
Dan Mangan

The percentage of Americans who identify themselves as “pro-choice” hit 55% — its highest level in decades — on the heels of a leaked opinion that strongly suggests the Supreme Court will revoke the constitutional right to abortion in the next month, according to a new Gallup poll.

That level is six percentage points higher than the one recorded in a similar Gallup poll last year. It has been 27 years since the percentage of those who support the rights to terminate pregnancies was that high in a Gallup poll. In 1995, 56% of Americans felt that way,


Why the new polling on abortion rights and Roe v. Wade matters

The Roe v. Wade precedent remains quite popular, but that won't protect it from Republicans and conservative jurists.

Nov. 16, 2021
By Steve Benen

With Republican-appointed justices enjoying a dominant majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, GOP policymakers at the state level have scrambled to impose new restrictions on Americans' reproductive rights. The most odious is Texas' new bounty system, but it's not the only anti-abortion measure approved of late.

And while there's no doubt that much of the Republican base is delighted with the policy offensive, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll makes clear that these changes are not what the American mainstream wants. From the Post's report on the poll results:


About six-in-ten Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases

May 6, 2021

Abortion has long been a contentious issue in the United States, and it is one that sharply divides Americans along partisan, ideological and religious lines.

Today, a 59% majority of U.S. adults say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 39% think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. These views are relatively unchanged in the past few years. The latest Pew Research Center survey, conducted April 5 to 11, finds deep disagreement between – and within – the parties over abortion. In fact, the partisan divide on abortion is far wider than it was two decades ago.


In Europe and the US, abortion rights are under renewed threat

by Emma Reynolds, CNN
Sun November 1, 2020

(CNN)The Abortion Dream Team usually receives about 400 calls a month, from women seeking advice and information. Last week, the Polish advocacy group had 700 in the space of three days, according to team member Justyna Wydrzynska.

Some came from women who had just arrived at hospital to have abortions because of fetal defects -- only to be told to go home after Poland's highest court on October 22 imposed a near-total ban on abortion.


What Americans Really Think About Abortion

It’s the issue that most epitomizes our ‘us’ versus ‘them’ political culture, but actually talking to people yields much more nuance

By Tricia C. Bruce
Sept. 25, 2020

Americans’ attitudes on abortion have remained relatively steady for decades, or so the polls say. Roughly half of Americans identify as “pro-choice,” half as “pro-life”; roughly half see abortion as “morally acceptable,” half as “morally wrong.” Most believe that abortion should be legal in some or all cases—or, framed another way, most support some kind of legal restrictions on abortion.

This division and stability over time make the issue of abortion look different from other social issues such as same-sex marriage, approval for which has been climbing for decades. The rift among Americans over abortion persists in ways that seem to epitomize the polarizing climate of U.S. culture and politics, of “us” versus “them,” as we’ll be reminded in heated discussion of Roe v. Wade in the confirmation battle for a new Supreme Court justice in the weeks ahead.


Global Public Opinion About Abortion Is Shifting

Views on a thorny moral and medical issue are remarkably unsettled for a debate that has played out over generations.

By Ben Schott
September 18, 2020

Although the political debate surrounding abortion often seems most heated in the United States, recent data suggest that global public opinion on this thorny moral and medical issue is more fluid than one might think.

Ipsos has been tracking views on abortion annually since 2014. This year’s poll of 17,500 adults across 25 countries indicates that, on average, 70% think abortion should be permitted — down from 75% in 2016, and 2 percentage points lower than in 2014. (These figures include all abortion; when asked if abortion should be permitted “whenever a woman decides she wants one” the global acceptance rate falls to 44%.)


Most Americans Support Abortion. So What’s the Problem?

Protecting reproductive freedom is a winning issue with the American public. So why are we in the midst of an all-out assault on it?

By Ilyse Hogue
August 13, 2020

In political conversations about abortion in the U.S., one critical fact is far too consistently ignored: The overwhelming majority of Americans support—and always have supported—maintaining the legal right to abortion. Right now that support is at an all-time high of 77%. But in 1972, a year before Roe v. Wade, more than two thirds of even Republicans agreed that abortion was a private matter between a woman and her doctor. Protecting reproductive freedom is a winning issue with the American public. So why are we in the midst of an all-out assault on reproductive freedom?

Republican voters, like almost all people, want to believe that their chosen course is the moral one. At the same time, most people choose not to argue morality with others, believing it is a personal code, not a political one.


USA – Abortion Might Finally Be a Winning Issue for Democrats

Abortion Might Finally Be a Winning Issue for Democrats
As the Republicans’ long strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade edges closer to reality, voters are expressing their discontent.

By Christina Cauterucci
Nov 27, 2019

A recent New York Times survey of the Democratic field—taken before Michael Bloomberg and Deval Patrick entered the race—showed little variation in the presidential candidates’ support for abortion rights. Every candidate wants to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal Medicaid dollars from covering abortion care. They all said they’d use Roe v. Wade as a litmus test when selecting Supreme Court justices. Only Joe Sestak and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard were willing to outright state that they support restrictions on third-trimester abortions. (Sen. Amy Klobuchar, though, has previously called third-trimester restrictions “very important.”)


Why Anti-Abortion Lawmakers Have Become So Open About Attacking ‘Roe’

Why Anti-Abortion Lawmakers Have Become So Open About Attacking ‘Roe’

Nov 25, 2019
Casey Quinlan

Since Trump entered the presidential race in 2015, anti-abortion advocates and lawmakers "have been emboldened with horrific rhetoric that supports a climate of violence against abortion providers," said Erin Matson, co-founder and co-director of Reproaction. "They’re just going for the jugular."

In late October, Pennsylvania state Rep. Stephanie Borowicz (R-Clinton County) and state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin County) introduced a bill banning abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. During the press conference, Borowicz said the bill could be the “dagger in Roe v. Wade.”