The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Majority of Americans say Supreme Court should uphold Roe, Post-ABC poll finds

Hundreds gathered outside the Supreme Court on May 2 following the news about a leaked draft opinion indicating that a majority of the court is prepared to overturn the right to abortion. (Video: Julie Yoon/The Washington Post)
4 min

A majority of Americans say the Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion, a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted last week finds.

With the Supreme Court poised to overturn the right to abortion, the survey finds that 54 percent of Americans think the 1973 Roe decision should be upheld while 28 percent believe it should be overturned — a roughly 2-to-1 margin.

The Supreme Court is considering a Mississippi law that would ban abortion after 15 weeks. Such a restriction seemed forbidden by Roe and a subsequent decision that said states could not place undue burden on the right to abortion before fetal viability, usually seen as 22 to 24 weeks. The Supreme Court is preparing to overturn Roe in this case, according to a leaked draft of the opinion published Monday by Politico.

[Supreme Court is ready to strike down Roe v. Wade, leaked draft shows]

The Post-ABC poll finds that 57 percent of Americans oppose their state making abortions legal only in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy, while a similar majority, 58 percent, opposes limiting abortion to the first six weeks of pregnancy.

Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Texas and Wyoming have passed new abortion restrictions recently. The Post-ABC poll finds that 4 in 10 residents in these states are aware that recent abortion restrictions were passed in their state, but a majority said they were unaware of new restrictions.

Read full Post-ABC poll results

Should the Supreme Court strike down Roe, some states could pass laws restricting or protecting access to abortion. The poll shows that one-third of Americans, 33 percent, say access to abortion in their state should be made easier, while slightly more, 36 percent, say abortion access should be left as is for now. A quarter, 25 percent, say it should be harder to access abortion.

The latest action on abortion legislation across the states

More broadly, the Post-ABC poll finds 58 percent of Americans say abortion should be legal in “most cases” or “all cases,” while 37 percent say it should be illegal in “most cases” or “all cases.”

Public opinion on the legality of abortion has not shifted significantly since 2019, when 60 percent of Americans said it should be legal in all or most cases. Support today is slightly above the average of 55 percent saying it should be legal in all or most cases over 33 national Post-ABC polls dating back to 1995.

Americans overwhelmingly support permitting abortion in certain cases. Eighty-two percent say abortion should be legal when the woman’s physical health is endangered, and 79 percent say abortion should be legal when the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest. Meanwhile, 67 percent say abortion should be legal when there is evidence of serious birth defects.

Americans are more evenly divided on abortion in instances when the person who is pregnant cannot afford to have a child, with 48 percent saying it should be legal and 45 percent saying it should be illegal.

Despite varying opinions on when abortions should be allowed or not, 70 percent of Americans say the decision of whether a woman can have an abortion should be made by the woman and her doctor; 24 percent say it should be regulated by law. The majority saying the decision should be left to a woman and her doctor declined slightly from 75 percent in a November poll.

Views on Roe in the new poll range heavily based on partisan affiliation, with 75 percent of Democrats saying the court should uphold the ruling, compared with 53 percent of independents and 36 percent of Republicans. A plurality of Republicans, 44 percent, say the court should overturn the ruling, while 19 percent offer no opinion.

Read poll crosstabs showing results by group

Religion also plays a role, with support for overturning Roe peaking at 45 percent among evangelical Protestants, while 39 percent of this group say the court should uphold the ruling and 16 percent have no opinion. Despite the mixed views on Roe, 68 percent of evangelical Protestants say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

The Post-ABC poll finds a majority of nonevangelical Protestants, 66 percent, want the court to uphold Roe, as do 55 percent of Catholics and 64 percent of those who identify with no religion.

A 57 percent majority of women say the court should uphold Roe, while a slightly smaller share of men, 50 percent, say the same.

The Post-ABC poll was conducted April 24 to 28 among a random national sample of 1,004 adults, reached on cellphones and landlines. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for overall results and is larger among subgroups.