The overwhelming majority of Americans, including most Republicans, oppose total bans on abortion, according to a new Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) survey. The data shows how starkly the views of politicians contrast with those they are hired to represent, and points to the potential for backlash against restrictive state abortion bans.
Most Americans Oppose Abortion Bans
The study draws data from the 2018 American Values Atlas, which is a project of PRRI. It included 54,357 telephone interviews of people living in all 50 states. Americans broadly supported abortion, according to the data. Eighty-four percent said that abortion should be legal in at least some cases. Just 25% said abortion should be mostly illegal, with exceptions only for extreme cases, such as rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.
Seventy percent of Democrats and 34% of Republicans expressed broad support for abortion. Though Republicans were less likely than Democrats to say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, they also opposed total bans. Just 22% of Republicans believe abortion should be illegal in all cases, suggesting they oppose bans their party has passed in Georgia, Missouri, Louisiana, and numerous other states.
Other highlights of the study include:
- Religiously affiliated people were more likely to oppose most or all abortions. Even devoutly religious groups opposed abortion bans. Just 25% of evangelical protestants said they support total bans on abortion.
- Seventy-seven percent of Americans said government programs such as Medicaid should pay for birth control. Republicans also showed significant support for birth control, with 64% asserting that government programs should pay for birth control.
- Forty-six percent of those surveyed said government programs should pay for abortion.
Some respondents expressed inconsistent views about abortion, suggesting that the way a question is worded may affect the person’s answer. For example, 7% of respondents said that abortion should be illegal, but that government programs should pay for it.
When Politicians Ignore People
Draconian new abortion regulations mean that abortion clinics in Georgia, Missouri, and other states with Republican leaders might soon be prevented from serving women. The states enacting abortion bans hope to test Roe vs. Wade by inspiring lawsuits that eventually wind their way to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, these states have done nothing to improve maternal or infant health. Georgia has the worst maternal mortality rate in the country, and a worse maternal mortality rate than 100 other countries—including Iraq and Iran.
The politicians pushing restrictive abortion bans remain undaunted by concerns for the lives of women and their children. Inexplicably, they seem unconcerned by the potential political backlash. No more than 25% of the population in any state supports a total ban on abortion. Republican gerrymandering means that even if a majority of Americans oppose a policy and attempt to vote out those who support it, a vocal and powerful minority can force it through.
We’re witnessing an attack on democracy, and on the idea that people should get to choose their leaders and choose the rules that govern them. So it should come as no surprise that those who oppose the will of the people would begin their attack by trying to control women’s bodies. These laws will injure and kill women. They’ll drive poverty rates higher, force women to remain in abusive relationships, and even hinder men’s chances at successful lives. That’s exactly the point. The Republican agenda is about disempowering people.