New poll: Support for legal abortion has increased, despite SCOTUS ruling & state bans

A sea of women in pink hats hold up protest signs. The most visible sign reads: "Get your laws off my body."

Nearly two years ago, the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, in a controversial decision that gave states the ability to ban or limit access to abortion. 

While many southern and Midwestern state governments continue their crusade to ban reproductive care, the majority of Americans have actually grown more supportive of abortion rights.

According to new polling from the Pew Research Center, more than 60% of Americans now believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. This is a 4% increase from 2021, the year before SCOTUS overturned Roe. 

A line graph from Pew Research Center shows that a majority of Americans (63%) say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases
Photo courtesy of Pew Research Center

The American majority has long supported legal abortion, especially in recent years, but this April, Pew set out to dive deeper into public sentiment on abortion

Pew’s team surveyed 8,709 adults for a week in April of this year. The survey was weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education, and more.

Although there is a widening gap in opinions between Democrats and Republicans, Pew said that since before Roe was overturned, both parties have seen a modest uptick in the share who say abortion should be legal.

According to the 2024 survey, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents overwhelming shared that abortion should be legal in all or most cases — with 85% supporting its legality. 

A line graph showing the diverging opinions of democrats and republicans about abortion, which has widened over the past decade. As of 2024, 85% of Democrats say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. On the other hand, 41% of Republicans say the same.t
Photo courtesy of Pew Research Center

The poll’s insights found that Republicans and Republican leaners are far less likely to agree, with 41% saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases. However, two-thirds of moderate and liberal Republicans still say it should be. 

Findings between the two major political parties represent the greatest demographic divide. Support for abortion access transcends most other demographics; the data shows that most men, women, white people, Black people, Hispanic people, and Asian people believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. 

While all of these groups are part of the majority that supports legal abortion, Black and Asian survey takers were documented as more supportive of legal abortion, with 73% and 76% respondents sharing their support, respectively.

A detailed graph shows that younger Americans are more likely than older adults to say bortion sho
Photo courtesy of Pew Research Center

Majorities of all age groups and education levels also agree that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, though the 18-to-29-year-old age range and highly educated survey takers were more likely than others to support abortion. 

Another insightful data point is that people in states with abortion bans have also become increasingly supportive of abortion access since June 2022, when SCOTUS overturned Roe.

In August 2019, 30% of people living in states where abortion is now outlawed said they believed it should be easier to access abortion.

In 2024, 42% of people in the same states say that.

With that in mind, 71% of those who live in states that prohibit abortion were three times as likely to say it would be difficult to obtain an abortion, which has risen 19% since 2019. 

A graph by Pew Research Center shows that Americans living in states with abortion bans or restrictions are more likely to say it should be easier than it currently is to obtain an abortion.
Photo courtesy of Pew Research Center

This reveals dissonance between the reality of abortion access and the sentiment of most Americans. Overall, a decreasing number of Americans say it should be harder to obtain an abortion: 33% said this in 2019, compared with 25% today.

Pew’s polling on public sentiment builds on bodies of research about the benefits of legal abortion, as well as the harms of abortion bans.

It can be inferred that limiting or banning access to abortion does not make people want abortions any less; nor does it actually reduce abortion, according to a 24-year-long study published in the Lancet.

And the revered Turnaway Study shows that there are little long-term harms seen in women who receive abortions, but rather a significant increase in mental health harm in women who were denied abortions.

“Our research shows it’s completely clear that people know how to judge their own circumstances and make decisions that are right for themselves,” Diana Greene Foster, Ph.D. and author of the Turnaway Study, said.

“They’re not thinking of the politics. They’re not thinking of the law. They’re just trying to make a good decision for themselves and their kids and their family and their future.”

Header image by Charly Louise/Pexels

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