- A new survey looks at Americans’ attitudes toward reproductive care and abortion after the overturning of Roe vs. Wade.
- According to the report, 62% of Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
- About 60% of Americans say it’s too hard to get an abortion and 35% believe it’s too easy.
New data from Pew Research Centers shows that more Americans say it’s difficult to access abortion care in their area and think it should be easier to get an abortion.
About 80% of Americans say their stance on abortion hasn’t changed since the fall of Roe, however, 13% say their view has changed a bit and 6% have taken a new stance on access to abortion care.
According to the report, 62% of Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
Charles Anthony Smith, JD, PhD, a professor of political science and law at University of California, Irvine, says the findings are in line with what political scientists would have anticipated.
“In essence, people who did not see the right to reproductive freedom under threat because of Roe have now had the issue become more salient for them and large majorities disagree with the decision to overturn Roe and make abortion much more difficult to obtain,” Smith told Healthline.
The survey is based on the responses of 5,079 adults that were submitted between March 27 and April 2, 2023.
The findings reveal how Americans’ opinions on abortion have shifted since the fall of Roe.
For example, between 2019 and 2023, the percentage of Americans who think it would be easy to get an abortion in their area dropped from 65% to 54%.
At the same time, 34% of Americans wish it were easier to get an abortion where they live — an 8-point increase from 2019.
In states that prohibit abortion, 43% say access should be easier. In 2019, only 31% felt this way.
About 60% of Americans say it’s too hard to get an abortion and 35% believe it’s too easy.
Jessie Hill, JD, a constitutional law professor at Case Western Reserve University specializing in reproductive health rights, is not surprised to see most Americans want abortion to be legal as polls over the decades have consistently show that the majority of Americans support legal access to abortion.
“It seems, based on these numbers, that there’s broader support for abortion rights than ever before and increasing frustration with legislators’ attempts to make abortion inaccessible,” she says.
The report also highlights how abortion remains a divisive issue in the United States.
“If any of the Supreme Court Justices thought that Dobbs, by giving abortion policy back to the states, would settle this debate once and for all and that we would quickly reach a national equilibrium on this issue, polls like this make it clear that they were very mistaken,” Hill says.
Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents are two times as likely as Republicans to say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
The findings also reveal how Democrats’ opinions on abortion have evolved over the years. A decade ago, two-thirds of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said abortion should be legal — now, 84% say abortion should be legal in most cases.
Most Democrats or about 94% say it should be legal in most or all cases.
About 85% of Democrats largely agree that some states are making it too difficult to get an abortion, whereas just over half of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters think certain states are making it too easy to get an abortion.
In addition, conservative Republicans are most against legal abortion. In that group 72% said the procedure should be illegal in all or most cases.
On the other hand, 61% of moderate and liberal Republicans think abortion should be legal in most cases.
Smith says the Republican Party has long used the topic of abortion — and the promise of overturning Roe — to generate campaign contributions and drive turnout from a small but active sector of conservatives.
That said, “large swaths of the Republican Party do not support outlawing abortion and those voters did not previously perceive the right to get an abortion as under threat because they thought Roe would continue to be the law of the land,” Smith says.
To Smith, prohibiting abortion will be a losing policy issue for Republicans and the party will soon have to decide if they will moderate access to abortion or cave to extremists and lose support, potentially becoming a minority party.
“The people, mostly, want to be left alone to make their own decisions about their lives regardless of where on the political spectrum they fall,” Smith said.
New data from Pew Research Centers shows that more Americans say it’s difficult to access abortion care in their area and think it should be easier to get an abortion. Most Americans say their stance on abortion hasn’t changed since the fall of Roe, however, 19% have changed their mind on abortion access. The report also highlights how legal abortion remains a divisive issue — the vast majority of Democrats support legal abortion, as do most moderate and liberal Republicans, however, conservative Republicans strongly oppose legal abortion.