Washington – Roe v. Wade facing his strongest threat in decades, a new poll finds Democrats increasingly see protecting abortion rights as a high priority for the government.
Thirteen percent of Democrats mentioned abortion or reproductive rights as one of the issues they want the federal government to address in 2022, according to a December poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Huh. That’s from less than 1% of Democrats who designated it as a priority for 2021 and 3% who listed it in 2020.
Some other issues such as the economy, COVID-19, health care and gun control were ranked as high priorities for Democrats in the poll, which allowed respondents to name up to five top issues. But the exponential increase in the percentage citing reproductive rights as a major concern suggests the issue is resonating with Democrats as the Supreme Court considers cases that could impose dramatic restrictions on abortion access. .
“The public has a lot of things they want the government to address,” said Jennifer Benz, deputy director of the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. “You ask these kinds of questions in times of economic turmoil and in times of a pandemic and all these other things, we can’t expect to get on top of abortion.”
With a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, Republicans see this as their best opportunity in years to reverse the Roe v. Wade, 1973 decision that legalized abortion across the United States. In December, the Supreme Court dropped the Texas law that bans most abortions in the state and indicated during arguments that they would uphold the Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The decision will be made public in June.
Calling abortion voting numbers “shocking,” Benz said conventional wisdom holds that abortion is a persuasive issue for Republicans, not Democrats. Research from the 1980s and 1990s, Benz said, “routinely found that opponents of abortion had greater strength of point of view and viewed the issue as more important to them than those who personally liked it. “
It might be changing. Sam Lau, senior director of advocacy media at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, believes more Americans are recognizing this moment as a crisis of abortion access.
“I think what we’ve seen is an increase in awareness, an increase in urgency, an increase in the need to fight back,” he said. “But I still really think that vast swaths of this population still don’t fully believe that abortion and the 50-year precedent that is Roe v. Wade really hangs in the balance.”
The Court’s 1973 decision, reaffirmed in a 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, allows states not to ban abortions until the point of fetal viability at approximately 24 weeks. If Rowe and Casey are reversed in June, abortion will soon be illegal or severely banned in nearly half of states, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights.
It is months before a midterm election that is expected to be challenging for Democrats.
Lau thinks people are beginning to recognize that they “simply cannot rely on the courts to protect their rights and our access to essential health care.”
“We are currently pushing elected officials who are champions of sexual and reproductive health care to be bold and to commit crimes and to pass proactive legislation to protect access to abortion,” Lau said. “I think voters are going to the polls and want to vote for candidates they can trust to protect their health care and reproductive freedom.”
Polling shows relatively few Americans want to see Roe turn. In 2020, AP VoteCast, a poll of voters, showed that 69% of voters in the presidential election said the Supreme Court should leave the Roe v. Wade ruling as is; Only 29 per cent said that the court should overturn the decision. In general, AP-NORC polling shows that the majority of the public is in favor of legalizing abortion in most or all cases.
Still, Americans take a nuanced view of the issue, and many do not think that abortion should be possible after the first trimester or that women should be able to obtain legal abortions for any reason.
For Rachel Dunn, 41, who knew girls in high school and women in college and their adult lives who needed abortions, it’s “just health care.”
“It’s something I know through my life that women need for a variety of reasons,” said Dunn of Tarentum, Pennsylvania. “The government needs to step in because all these laws are being written and passed, but none of them are for medical reasons.”
He is concerned about a domino effect from these Supreme Court cases, saying he is concerned about how they will affect the future of his two daughters as well as his son.
“It’s like, if it’s been confirmed over and over again, why are we still doing it?” Dunn said.
The AP-NORC survey of 1,089 adults was conducted on December 2–7 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the US population. The margin of sample error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.