Fewer than one-third of Americans want to see the Roe v. Wade decision overturned, according to a set of three polls released over the past week, with key elements of Texas’ restrictive new abortion law also garnering relatively little support in the polls.
In a Marquette Law School survey released Wednesday, just 20% of the public favors overturning Roe v. Wade, with 50% opposed to doing so, and another 29% say they haven’t heard anything or haven’t heard enough to have an opinion on the ruling. In a Monmouth University poll, 62% of Americans say the Supreme Court should leave the decision as is, compared with 31% who want to revisit it. And in a Quinnipiac University survey, Americans say, 67% to 27%, that they generally agree with the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a woman’s right to an abortion.
Those results track with polls earlier this year that also found majority opposition to the idea of overturning Roe v. Wade.
The court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on a Mississippi law that would ban abortion after 15 weeks, a case that represents a direct challenge to Roe. A decision is expected next summer as the congressional campaign season heats up.
In recent years, many GOP-led states, emboldened by a conservative Supreme Court majority and the subsequent confirmation of Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, have increasingly passed new restrictions to abortion access.
Polling indicates that may not be goal a majority of Americans share.
Americans say, 45% to 23%, that the Supreme Court has reduced, rather than expanded, the rights of people seeking abortions over the past 15 years or so, according to Marquette. Nearly half would like to see the needle move the other way – 48% want to see the Supreme Court make it easier to get an abortion in the US, per Quinnipiac, with 35% saying the court should make it harder to do so.
How Americans describe their views on abortion in a poll can vary significantly depending on the details of the questions they’re asked. Unlike in some other cases – for instance, approaches to foreign policy – this isn’t mainly because people lack strong, preexisting opinions on the topic. Rather, it’s because many people hold complicated or nuanced views about how to handle the issue. In the Monmouth and Quinnipiac surveys, about half of the public said they felt abortion laws should fall somewhere between “always legal” and “always illegal.”
The specifics of the Texas law – especially its enforcement procedures – could constrain its public support. According to Marquette, 3 in 10 Americans say they’d favor the Supreme Court upholding “a state law that bans most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy” – which describes the Texas law – with 46% opposed, and 23% saying they haven’t heard enough to weigh in.
In the Quinnipiac poll, Americans say 51% to 39% that abortions should be legal after a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which is usually around six weeks of pregnancy – which can often be before a woman knows that she is pregnant.
Seven in 10 Americans, the Monmouth poll finds, disapprove of “having private citizens use lawsuits to enforce this law instead of having government prosecutors handle these cases,” and 81% disapprove of “giving $10,000 to private citizens who successfully file abortion lawsuits.”
The Monmouth University poll surveyed 802 US adults by phone on Sept. 9-13, with a margin of sampling error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. The Quinnipiac University poll surveyed 1,210 US adults by phone on Sept. 10-13, with a margin of sampling error of +/- 2.8 percentage points. The Marquette Law School poll surveyed 1,411 US adults on Sept. 7-16 using a nationally representative online panel, with a margin of sampling error of +/-3.4 percentage points.