The leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade has galvanized greater pro-choice identification among American voters and intensified explicit support for legal abortion, according to polling conducted by Gallup.
The survey of 1,007 U.S. adults was conducted during a 20-day period beginning May 2, the same day the draft opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was reported by Politico. In that draft, Justice Samuel Alito offers a vigorous argument why the Mississippi case should be used to end a federal right to abortion. An official release of the final decision is expected any day.
“The prospect of the Supreme Court overturning the case that established women’s right to seek an abortion has clearly jolted a segment of Americans into identifying with the pro-choice side of the issue and expressing more unequivocal support for abortion being legal,” Gallup said.
The survey found that identification with the “pro-choice” stance jumped six points to 55% over the past year, following a decade in which affinity for the label seldomly varied between 45% and 50%.
“Pro-choice sentiment is now the highest Gallup has measured since 1995 when it was 56% — the only other time it has been at the current level or higher — while the 39% identifying as ‘pro-life’ is the lowest since 1996.”
Gallup explained that respondents’ identification as pro-choice typically fluctuates depending on major events —such as the Supreme Court draft decision leak.
While opinions about the legality of abortion based on trimester were nuanced, a consistent 58% said they oppose overturning Roe v. Wade. “This likely reflects their concern about states then being able to outlaw abortion altogether, which would prevent women in those states from accessing even first-trimester abortions.”
Gallup also discovered that 52% of Americans find abortion to be morally acceptable, while an all-time low of 38% said it is morally wrong.
“The latest data show Americans are less likely than a year ago to say abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, falling six points to 13%, the lowest Gallup has recorded for this position since 1995. At the same time, the 35% wanting it legal under any circumstances is the highest in Gallup’s trend by one point, after increasing slightly each of the past three years.”
Democrats were responsible for most of the change during the past year, with their embrace of the pro-choice designation rising from 70% to 88%.
“The poll also shows significant increases in pro-choice identification among Democratic-leaning groups, including younger adults and women,” the Gallup report noted. “Pro-choice identification increased by nine percentage points to 61% among women, 12 points to 67% among adults aged 18 to 34 and nine points to 58% among adults aged 35 to 54. The percentage ‘pro-choice’ did not change significantly among Republicans, independents, men or older Americans.”
Democrats also expressed the most support for legal abortion in all or most circumstances, increasing from 69% to 82%, Gallup said. Among U.S. adults aged 18 to 34, the increase was from 52% to 63%, while support rose eight points to 59% among women and five points to 45% among men.
“Support for abortion being broadly legal increased seven points over the past year among political independents but did not change appreciably among Republicans or adults aged 55 and older,” the report explained.
Gallup added that opinions about overturning Roe v. Wade are sharply divided by political allegiances: 80% of Democrats, 62% of independents and 31% of Republicans oppose such a move. By comparison, Republicans at 58%, independents at 34% and Democrats at 15% want to see the 1973 decision reversed.
“Republicans have been much more supportive of overturning Roe v. Wade, but it has not been the overwhelming view of the party’s rank-and-file, with support averaging 50% since 1989 and falling below the majority level on several occasions,” Gallup reported. “However, the latest reading for Republicans, 58%, is the highest on record for that group.”
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