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4 May 2022

On abortion, Republicans are out of step with US public opinion

Sixty nine per cent of US adults oppose overturning Roe vs Wade.

By Ben van der Merwe

Republican politicians have hailed the prospect of the US Supreme Court overturning Roe vs Wade, the 1973 ruling that established womens’ right to abortion.

Recent polling, however, shows that the vast majority of Americans are against the move. A January poll by CNN found that 69 per cent of all US adults opposed overturning the ruling, with 30 per cent in favour. More than a third of respondents said that such a decision would make them angry (35 per cent), against just 14 per cent who said it would make them happy. 

Republicans are out of step with America on abortion
Source: CNN/SPSS poll, January 2022

Among Republican voters support for overturning Roe vs Wade had a small majority of 56 per cent, while 29 per cent said that such a decision would make them happy.

Republicans’ views on abortion have become increasingly divorced from the American public in recent decades. In 1975 the American polling company Gallup found that 25 per cent of Republicans thought abortion should be banned in all circumstances -- just slightly higher than the 23 per cent of all US adults who thought so. By 2021, however, the share of Republicans holding that view had risen to 31 per cent even as support among the wider public dropped to 19 per cent.

Recent surveys suggest that Americans are rapidly becoming more pro-choice. An annual Gallup poll conducted since 2001 found this year that the share of Americans supporting a loosening of abortion laws (20 per cent) for the first time outnumbered the share who supported additional restrictions (15 per cent).

For now, the country remains deeply divided on the issue. A May 2021 poll found that Americans were evenly split on whether abortion was morally wrong, with just 1 per cent reporting no opinion.

[See also: Roe vs Wade: What to write when your country takes away your rights?]

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