The Slatest

Poll: Support for Abortion Rights Increases as Restrictive Laws Spread

Women hold signs during a protest against recently passed abortion ban bills at the Georgia State Capitol building, on May 21, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Women hold signs during a protest against recently passed abortion ban bills at the Georgia State Capitol building, on May 21, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Support for abortion rights among Americans has risen over the past year as several state governments are moving toward restricting access. According to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll, 58 percent of Americans say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, an increase of eight percentage points from a similar poll in July 2018. The poll suggests Democrats are the most passionate about the issue, with 81 percent saying it should be legal in most or all cases. That compares to 55 percent of Republicans who say abortion should be illegal in most or all cases.

The poll comes as eight Republican-controlled states have passed restrictive new laws on abortion this year, a move that many see as an effort to get the Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue. The Reuters/Ipsos survey confirms though what several others have said, which is that Americans as a whole are opposed to very restrictive laws on abortion such as the one recently approved in Alabama that bans abortion in pretty much all cases. Eighty percent, for example, said they support abortion rights for cases of rape or incest.

Even though the recent wave of anti-abortion measures has helped rally conservatives, the poll also makes clear the strategy may not be very effective to win over voters. Only 9 percent of Republicans said their first preference would be to vote for a candidate who made banning abortion his or her main focus. Democrats also don’t seem to see it as the most pressing issue since only 11 percent said they prefer to vote for a candidate whose main focus would be to protect abortion rights.

This most recent poll is in line with other recent surveys that found Americans don’t support restrictive laws on abortion and the vast majority want Roe v. Wade to be left in place. A recent Morning Consult/Politico poll found that 56 percent of registered voters are opposed to other states passing similar laws to the one approved in Alabama. Little wonder then that many conservatives have distanced themselves from these laws. Even President Donald Trump said he is in favor of exceptions in cases of rape and incest.