Fewer people identify as “supporting abortion rights” since the Supreme Court decision of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned the past decisions of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey on June 24.
The median results of the same question asked in a NPR/PBS Marist poll in May and June 2022 show a shift toward pro-life sentiment. The June poll was conducted nationally with 941 adults from June 24 to June 25, 2022, just after the Dobbs ruling was issued; the May poll was weeks earlier but followed the leaked Supreme Court draft indicating the outcome of the Dobbs decision.
The question in both polls asked adults nationally, “Do you think of yourself as mostly: Supporting abortion rights, Opposing abortion rights, or as Unsure.” On its face, support for abortion rights fell from 61% to 55%, a gap of 6 percentage points. Accordingly, the responses “opposing abortion rights” and “unsure” increased collectively by five percentage points. And while the results for opposition and uncertainty between the two polls were within their margins of error, the decreased “support for abortion” median numbers were notable.
Many news sources have focused on the other results of the June poll, which point to a more invigorated pro-abortion base for Democrats and less esteem for the Supreme Court. This “Dobbs effect,” it is argued, would increase Democrats’ chances of success in midterm elections. And while important, pundits agree that any “Dobbs effect” in relation to the midterms is speculation and is not likely to matter past this year’s election cycle, if at all.
While the statistical gains and losses on current political questions are fleeting, a slight but fundamental shift of the underlying philosophical issue on “abortion rights” could become ground-shifting and is worth cautious optimism. More people questioning and changing their minds on abortion should be a hopeful sign to pro-lifers across America.
Another poll commissioned by Harvard CAPS and The Harris Poll since the release of the Dobbs decision indicates that a plurality of voting Americans (44%) support abortion laws being regulated by the state over Supreme Court Justices (24%) though support for overall federal jurisdiction of abortion is still high. This is good news for the Dobbs decision since the Supreme Court basically found no justification for the Court’s regulation of abortion in the U.S. Constitution — a fundamental construct of Roe.
One thing in common among recent polling is that America’s current abortion climate is complicated, with views on the regulation of abortion varied based on how the poll questions are phrased and what combinations of legal restrictions are presented. Regardless of any poll results, pro-lifers have a new opportunity with the Dobbs decision for a renewed discussion of abortion, what abortion really is and a new chance for people to question abortion and rethink their long-held positions in favor.
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