More than three-quarters of Americans say they believe Roe v. Wade should be upheld, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released Friday. But the majority also want restrictions tacked on.
While 77% of respondents said the Supreme Court should uphold the landmark decision that established a woman’s right to abortion in 1973, 26% want to keep Roe V. Wade but add additional restrictions. A strong majority at 61% favor some combination of limitations on abortion.
Only 13% favor overturning the ruling altogether. One-third of those polled who identified as “Pro-Life” would want to overturn the ruling entirely. Instead, most “Pro-Life” respondents favor increased restrictions, rather than eliminating the right to abortion completely.
While Alabama seeks to ban abortion altogether unless a woman’s life is endangered, most Americans want to limit abortion, not rule it fully illegal.
What this tells us is that Americans have more nuanced views toward abortions than the loudest voices, especially news media and politicians, seem to be letting on. Even though the public debate is dominated by the extreme positions on either side, most Americans, whether in support of or against the right to abortion, fall somewhere in the middle.
Twenty-three percent of pollers favor restricting abortion to only within the first three months of pregnancy, while 29% favor abortion only in cases of rape, incest or to save the woman’s life. Just 9% said they favored only allowing an abortion to save the life of the woman.
On the other side, 14% want to keep Roe v. Wade but reduce restrictions, while 21 percent want to expand the ruling, nixing any legislative barriers to abortion and establishing the right to abortion regardless of circumstance.
The survey included 944 adult respondents who were polled between May 31 and June 4.
Forty-six years after Roe v. Wade, the polls show that most Americans still uphold its value. But the fundamental court decision is facing a constant deluge of threats as the fight to maintain abortion rights continues with nationwide protests, most recently in Alabama and Georgia.
As an ever-growing series of Republican-backed state legislatures have passed bills restricting access to abortion procedures, the abortion debate has begun to dominate public debates and news agendas in the past few weeks.
According to the polls, most Americans—two-thirds of respondents—are dissatisfied with current abortion policy. As the debate continues and the policies shift, perhaps that number will finally change.