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Majority of Americans say Supreme Court should uphold Roe, Washington Post-ABC poll finds

Pro-choice and anti-abortion protesters gather in front of the Supreme Court after news broke that Roe v. Wade is set to be overturned in Washington, D.C., on Monday.  (Washington Post)
By Emily Guskin and Scott Clement Washington Post

WASHINGTON – A majority of Americans say the Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion, a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted last week finds.

With the Supreme Court poised to overturn the right to abortion, the survey finds that 54% of Americans think the 1973 Roe decision should be upheld while 28% believe it should be overturned – a roughly 2-to-1 margin.

The Supreme Court is considering a Mississippi law that would ban abortion after 15 weeks. Such a restriction seemed forbidden by Roe and a subsequent decision that said states could not place undue burden on the right to abortion before fetal viability, usually seen as 22 to 24 weeks. The Supreme Court is preparing to overturn Roe in this case, according to a leaked draft of the opinion published Monday by Politico.

The Washington Post-ABC poll finds that 57% of Americans oppose their state making abortions legal only in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy, while a similar majority, 58%, opposes limiting abortion to the first six weeks of pregnancy.

Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Texas and Wyoming have passed new abortion restrictions recently. The Washington Post-ABC poll finds 4 in 10 residents in these states are aware that recent abortion restrictions were passed in their state, but a majority said they were unaware of new restrictions.

Should the Supreme Court strike down Roe, some states could pass laws restricting or protecting access to abortion. The poll shows that one-third of Americans, 33%, say access to abortion in their state should be made easier, while slightly more, 36%, say abortion access should be left as is for now. A quarter, 25%, say it should be harder to access abortion.

More broadly, the Washington Post-ABC poll finds 58% of Americans say abortion should be legal in “most cases” or “all cases,” while 37% say it should be illegal in “most cases” or “all cases.”

Public opinion on abortion’s legality has not shifted significantly since 2019, when 60% of Americans said it should be legal in all or most cases. Support today is slightly above the average of 55% saying it should be legal in all or most cases over 33 national Washington Post-ABC polls dating back to 1995.

Americans overwhelmingly support permitting abortion in certain cases: 82% say abortion should be legal when the woman’s physical health is endangered, and 79% say abortion should be legal when the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest. Meanwhile, 67% say abortion should be legal when there is evidence of serious birth defects.

Americans are more evenly divided on abortion in instances when the person who is pregnant cannot afford to have a child, with 48% saying it should be legal and 45% saying it should be illegal.

Despite varying opinions when abortions should be allowed or not, 70% of Americans say the decision of whether a woman can have an abortion should be made by the woman and her doctor; 24% say it should be regulated by law. The majority saying the decision should be left to a woman and her doctor declined slightly from 75% in a November poll.

Views on Roe in the new poll range heavily based on partisan affiliation, with 75% of Democrats saying the court should uphold the ruling, compared with 53% of independents and 36% of Republicans. A plurality of Republicans, 44%, say the court should overturn the ruling, while 19% offer no opinion.

A 57% majority of women say the court should uphold Roe, while a slightly smaller share of men, 50%, say the same. A 75% majority of Democrats and 53% of independents want to uphold Roe, while 36% of Republicans say the same.

The Washington Post-ABC poll was conducted April 24 to 28 among a random national sample of 1,004 adults, reached on cellphones and landlines. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for overall results and is larger among subgroups.