In what can be interpreted as initial growth of opposition to abortion nationally among Americans, support for abortion “up to birth” has decreased and support for outlawing abortion “except in the case of rape and incest” has increased.
While comparing polls from different organizations that use different questions and different pools of respondents can be problematic, pro-life trends can be discerned when comparing the prestigious Marist/Knights of Columbus poll from early January 2022, a pre-Dobbs-leak Fox News poll, and the thorough Harvard/Harris poll conducted the week after the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
In a new poll by The Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University (CAPS) and The Harris Poll conducted June 28-29, 2022 (after Dobbs), only 10% of national voters say they would support abortion “up to 9 months” of pregnancy. States such as Alaska, Colorado, the District of Columbia, New Mexico, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah, and Vermont permit abortion throughout pregnancy. This poll number is lower than a Marist Poll/Knights of Columbus result from a poll conducted January 4-9, which revealed that 17% of Americans supported abortion for the “entire pregnancy.”
Dobbs, the Supreme Court decision which overturned Roe v. Wade, revolved around a restriction on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The new Harvard/Harris poll reveals that a majority of voters of every political persuasion would support their state restricting abortion after 15 weeks (60% Dem, 84% GOP, 70% Ind). In that same poll, a higher percentage of women (75%) said they would support a 15-week restriction, compared to 69% of men.
This is an even stronger pro-life result than the findings of a similar poll conducted by Fox News before the Dobbs leak in May. In that poll, voters were asked “how they would feel if a law restricting abortion to 15 weeks were passed in their state, [and] 54% of voters said they would favor such a law while 41% said they would oppose it.”
A whopping plurality of national voters — 37% — said they would favor abortion “only in cases of rape and incest,” seen on page 41 of the Harris/Harvard poll. Again, this poll was conducted after the release of Dobbs on June 24 and demonstrates a potentially tremendous increase compared to a Marist/Knights of Columbus poll of adults in January, which showed just 28% of voting adults said they would favor abortion access “only in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.”
To be sure, the phrasing of questions were not identical, nor did the polling organizations poll the same respondents. Despite this, there is room for cautious optimism in these poll results.
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