Nearly two-thirds of Americans want abortion laws to be decided by voters and their elected state representatives instead of the courts, according to a new poll. And this is expected to become a reality if the United States Supreme Court overturns the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
A survey of 1,200 registered voters conducted by pollster Scott Rasmussen and RMG Research from May 5-7, asked respondents for their thoughts on the contentious issue of abortion. The poll comes after Politico published a leaked draft majority opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, where a majority of Supreme Court justices seemed inclined to uphold Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban while declaring that Roe “must be overruled.”
Should the leaked draft opinion become the final majority opinion when the Supreme Court makes a final ruling in the Dobbs case, the legality of abortion would be decided on a state-by-state basis. The Rasmussen poll revealed that 65% of Americans want “voters and their elected representatives” to “decide the laws governing abortion,” which they would have the opportunity to do in the absence of Roe.
By contrast, just 18% of respondents believe that “judges and courts” should decide abortion laws, as they have effectively done for nearly half a century after Roe struck down all state laws prohibiting abortion. In an effort to nullify the effect of a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe, congressional Democrats have worked to pass legislation that would codify the right to abortion established by the 1973 decision into federal law.
A bill titled the "Women’s Health Protection Act" passed the Democrat-controlled U.S. House last year but has twice failed to secure enough votes for passage in the evenly divided Senate, most recently on Wednesday.
Rasmussen queried voters on whether they supported a proposed law “that would make abortion legal at any point during a pregnancy, up to the moment of birth.” A plurality of respondents (45%) said that they “strongly oppose” such a proposal, while an additional 18% said they “somewhat oppose” the idea of legal abortion up until the moment of birth. Although nearly two-thirds of Americans either somewhat or strongly oppose legislation making abortion legal until the moment of birth, 16% asserted that they “somewhat favor” doing so along with 14% who “strongly favor” a liberal abortion bill.
Additionally, Rasmussen asked voters whether a political candidate’s position on abortion would make them more likely or less likely to vote for that person: “Other things being equal, would you be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who wants abortion to be legal at any point during a pregnancy?”
A plurality of respondents (39%) insisted that they were “much less likely” to vote for a candidate supporting legal abortion throughout all nine months, and another 16% were “somewhat less likely” to support such a candidate. Sixteen percent of those surveyed described themselves as “somewhat more likely” to support a candidate who wants abortion to be legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy, and 17% identified themselves as “much more likely” to vote for a candidate if they supported legal abortion up until the moment of birth.
The remaining questions in the survey asked voters for their thoughts on President Joe Biden’s job performance, how closely they have been following the developments in the Dobbs case, and their perceptions of how the American people feel about the issue of abortion. The survey results illustrated a high level of interest in the Dobbs case among the American people, with 33% saying they have followed recent news stories about the case “very closely” and 39% claiming to have followed them “somewhat closely.”
The 72% of Americans who said they are following the Dobbs case “very/somewhat closely” represents a substantial increase from the 53% who said the same in a Rasmussen poll conducted on Jan. 27-28. Interest in the case has also increased slightly compared to a Rasmussen poll taken on May 3-4, where 69% of respondents reported following it “very/somewhat closely.”
When asked if “most voters believe that abortion should be legal at any point during a pregnancy,” 22% of respondents replied “Yes,” while 49% responded “No.”
If Roe is overturned, individual states will embrace a wide range of policies regarding abortion. In 21 states, strict abortion restrictions or complete bans on abortion would go into effect in the absence of Roe.
In 16 states that have codified a right to abortion into state law, the killing of preborn babies will remain legal throughout much of the entirety of a pregnancy. Ten states will see little change in their existing abortion laws, while voters in the remaining three states might have an opportunity to enact their preferred abortion policies at the ballot box in the near future.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org