Guest Column

Polling reveals Roe v. Wade abortion policy is less popular than media portrays

pro-life, New Jersey,

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this guest post are solely those of the author and are not necessarily reflective of Live Action or Live Action News.

Whenever pro-lifers achieve a significant legislative or political victory, mainstream media outlets are typically quick to promote polls and surveys which purportedly show low levels of support for the pro-life position. The recent enforcement of legislation Texas which legally protects unborn children after a heartbeat can be detected proved to be no exception. Recently, multiple media outlets, including The Washington Post, The Hill and MSNBC.com cited a new NBC News poll which purportedly shows that a majority of Americans think that abortion should be a legal option in “all” or “most” cases. 

However, the problem with this NBC News poll poll is that it fails to specifically ask about the Texas heartbeat bill. When surveys ask about this specific piece of pro-life legislation, a much different picture emerges.

Indeed, a Rasmussen poll of likely U.S. voters that was released this week found 46 percent of likely U.S. voters supported the Texas law with 43 percent opposed. The demographic breakdown of this poll was fairly consistent with other recent abortion surveys. Men were somewhat more likely to support the Texas law than women. Also, the law enjoyed somewhat more support from older voters than younger voters. That said, the fact that the Texas heartbeat bill received plurality support is good news for pro-lifers.  

READ: These 7 abortion-related cases are set to be heard by the Supreme Court this fall

This recent Rasmussen poll also asked another question that should be of specific interest to pro-lifers. The survey asked if “abortion laws should be determined by the state governments or the federal government. Interestingly, by a 46 to 34 margin, a plurality of likely voters said that abortion laws should be determined by state governments. Furthermore, state government control of abortion policy received plurality support from a very wide range of demographic groups including men, women, white respondents, Black respondents, and all age groups.

This very nicely shows that the abortion policy regime ushered in by the Roe v. Wade decision is less popular than many believe.

Overall, pro-life heartbeat bills have more public support the mainstream media is willing to admit. A recent Saint Louis University/YouGov poll shows that 56 percent of likely Missouri voters believe abortions should be prohibited after eight weeks gestation. Similarly, two separate polls conducted in 2019 and 2021 both show that a plurality of Texas voters support pro-life heartbeat bills.   Overall, the Texas heartbeat bill has received no shortage of negative coverage from the mainstream media. However, pro-lifers should not be discouraged.  A substantial body of research shows that legislation that protects preborn children often enjoys strong political and public support. As always, pro-lifers would do well to stay the course. 

Michael J. New is a Research Associate at The Busch School of Business and an Associate Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_J_New

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