Analysis

Do Americans really support Roe v. Wade? The answer is complex.

Roe v. Wade

Virtually the moment the Supreme Court announced that it would consider Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization regarding a Mississippi law seeking to ban abortion in the second trimester of pregnancy after 15 weeks, news agencies like CNN began to discuss the complexion of America’s thoughts on abortion. “Most Americans want to see the Supreme Court uphold Roe v. Wade, polling shows,” announced one headline. It’s a veritable certainty this headline is merely the first of many similar ones to come from mainstream media.

But there is a wealth of qualifying information relevant to those headlines, and most of the corresponding articles will only mention it as an obscure footnote, if they mention it at all — leading their readers to believe they reside among a decidedly pro-abortion populace.

But they don’t.

It is true that if you ask Americans, “Do you think Roe vs. Wade should be upheld?” most of them will say “Yes” — and CNN cites a cadre of polls proving it. However, as both Ryan Everson wrote in The Washington Examiner and David Leonhardt of The New York Times recently noted on Twitter (and as Live Action News has been reporting for years), most Americans do not understand exactly what Roe and its companion case, Doe vs. Bolton, entail. This can be readily discerned from a quick glance at their more nuanced opinions on the issue of abortion. And if Americans did understand the full scope of Roe and Doe, they might well respond differently.

READ: Nine ways pro-lifers can prepare for the possible end of Roe v. Wade

The combined effect of Roe and Doe is that abortion on demand until birth is legal in this country, making us one of only seven in the world (more than half of which are totalitarian regimes) where this is the case. A state’s attempt to pass any abortion restriction at all, at any time in pregnancy, is usually met with a lawsuit from the abortion industry.

But most Americans support restrictions on abortion; indeed, a 2021 Marist poll showed that a slight majority of Americans believe abortion either shouldn’t be allowed at all or should be legal only to save the mother’s life or in cases of rape or incest.

According to Gallup, most Americans also believe abortion should be limited to the first trimester — only 15% favor abortion on demand until birth, which is what current U.S. law allows. Seventy percent of Americans oppose abortions on disabled children, including a majority of those who identify as “pro-choice.” Furthermore, Americans who feel abortion is morally wrong outnumber those who feel it is morally acceptable, and a majority of Americans believe abortion does women more harm than good.

The next time you see the headlines scream that 7 out of 10 Americans support Roe, remember that “support” means different things to different people, and the understanding of Roe varies widely.

The question is whether Americans care enough about protecting the lives of an estimated 2,363 human beings per day to work to change current law.

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