Most Americans Support Legal Access To Abortions, New Survey Finds

Aug 13, 2019

Public support for legal access to abortions has been relatively stable across the country in the last five years, according to a national survey released Tuesday.

Fifty-four percent of those surveyed by the Public Religion Research Institute said they support legal access, while 40% oppose it. There was a political divide among the more than 40,000 people surveyed, with Democrats saying they've become more supportive and Republicans less so.

In Texas, 48% of respondents said they support abortions remaining legal. In the Austin metro area, 71% do. Natalie Jackson, director of research at PRRI, said that was in line with other metro areas around the country. Other Texas metro areas – including Dallas, San Antonio and Houston – stood out for having low support for abortion legality, at less than 51%.

The survey also found a distinct difference within the Hispanic and Latino communities based on where they were born. Those born in the United States were more supportive than those born in another country.

While political parties have polarized since the PRRI's last abortion survey in 2014, the survey also found they aren’t monoliths.

“There is variance within the parties,” Jackson said. “Liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats do look very different than the traditional stereotype of a Democrat and a Republican.”

The report also found that while lawmakers in states like Tennessee are pushing for legislation to make abortions illegal in almost all cases, no state had more than 23 percent public support for the idea. Jackson said the disconnect between policies and public opinion may be because opponents want a legal challenge to make it to the Supreme Court. 

“The concern is not necessarily representing public opinion or representing their states,” she said. “If you’re chasing a Supreme Court case, you’re looking to influence policy for the entire nation and not just the state where you’re legislating.”

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