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Nearly a year later, most Americans oppose Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe

Protesters filled the street in front of the Supreme Court after the court's decision to overturn <em>Roe v. Wade</em> on June 24, 2022. Nearly a year later, <em></em>61% of respondents to a new Gallup poll said overturning <em>Roe </em>was a "bad thing."
Jacquelyn Martin
/
AP
Protesters filled the street in front of the Supreme Court after the court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022. Nearly a year later, 61% of respondents to a new Gallup poll said overturning Roe was a "bad thing."

A growing majority of Americans support legal abortion in at least the early months of pregnancy, but the public has become more politically divided on the issue, according to a new Gallup poll.

The data, released days before the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision that overturned decades of precedent, suggests continued growth in public support for abortion rights. It comes at a time when many states are implementing new restrictions, which often include only limited exceptions for medical emergencies.

A year after Dobbs, 61% of respondents said overturning Roe was a "bad thing," while 38% said it was a "good thing."

Lydia Saad, Gallup's director of U.S. social research, says overall, the data suggests that Dobbs "galvanized people who were already supportive of abortion rights. ...We've seen an increase in Democrats identifying as pro-choice, supporting abortion rights at every stage. It's really a very defensive posture, protecting abortion rights in the face of what they view as this assault."

Long-term data from Gallup indicates growing support for abortion rights: 13% of survey respondents said abortion should be illegal in "all circumstances," down from 22% when the question was first asked in 1975. In this year's survey, 34% said abortion should be legal "under any circumstances," up from 21% that first year.

For decades, a slight majority of the American public – 51% this year and 54% in 1975 – has made up a middle group which says that abortion should be legal "only under certain circumstances."

Support for legal abortion wanes as a pregnancy progresses, but the survey found record-high support for abortion access in the first trimester, at 69%.

Saad said she believes that reflects growing dissatisfaction with laws in some states that restrict abortions around six weeks of pregnancy or earlier.

"We've crossed a line where having abortion not legal, even up to the point of viability ... is just a step too far for most Americans," Saad said.

The poll also found a deepening partisan divide on the issue of abortion; 60% of Democrats said it should be "legal under any circumstances," up dramatically from 39% as recently as 2019. Just 8% of Republicans, meanwhile, say the procedure should be legal in all circumstances, a number that has been on a long-term downward trajectory.

Gallup also is releasing data that suggests strong and growing support for legal access to the abortion pill mifepristone, which is at the center of a federal court case filed by anti-abortion-rights groups seeking to overturn the Food and Drug Administration approval of the pill.

The survey found that 63% of Americans believe the pill should be available with a prescription. According to Gallup, after the FDA approved a two-drug protocol involving mifepristone in 2000, 50% of Americans said they supported that decision.

The survey was conducted from May 1-24 among 1,011 adults as part of Gallup's Values and Beliefs poll.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.