Health

After Leak of Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade Opinion, Voters Are More Entrenched in Their Abortion Views

Survey also shows voters who want Roe to fall mostly back abortion penalties

An abortion-rights activist looks on during a Mothers Day demonstration outside the U.S. Supreme Court on May 8, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Bonnie Cash/Getty Images)

As news sinks in that the Supreme Court will likely overturn Roe v. Wade, voters are retreating deeper into their partisan corners on how abortion rights should be addressed going forward, a new Morning Consult/Politico survey shows.

And among the slice of voters who want the high court to topple the landmark 1973 ruling, many back the type of harsh penalties for abortion patients and providers that are being pushed in some conservative states.

Voters are more entrenched in their views

  • The U.S. electorate is increasingly likely to believe the Supreme Court will overturn Roe this summer. That share now includes 61% of voters, up from 57% in a survey conducted the day after Politico published a draft majority opinion indicating the court plans to reverse the ruling.
  • Compared with last week, Democratic voters are more likely to say Roe should be upheld, that abortion should be legal nationwide and that Congress should pass legislation to codify abortion rights. Meanwhile, Republicans are about equally likely to say that Roe should fall, but more likely to say abortion should be left to the states and that Congress should not pass an abortion rights bill.
  • The hardening of voter opinion in recent days comes as the issue continues to dominate the news cycle — and as politicians use abortion access as a rallying cry ahead of the 2022 midterms. More than 1 in 3 voters have now seen, read or heard “a lot” about the Supreme Court’s draft decision, up from 23% the day after the news broke.

What anti-Roe voters want

  • Only 28% of voters, including 48% of Republicans, want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. But many of these voters believe abortion providers should be punished with fines (68%) and prison time (55%), while more than 1 in 3 said abortion patients should go to prison.
  • In a post-Roe landscape, abortion policies would drastically differ by state. Louisiana lawmakers advanced a bill that would classify abortion as homicide, while officials in New York announced a new $35 million fund to pay for abortions for people coming from outside the state.
  • While 35% of voters said abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, anti-Roe voters are largely against abortion at any point. To gauge whether their perspectives might shift, half of voters were told that previous Supreme Court rulings guarantee abortion access up until fetal viability, generally considered to be between 23 to 24 weeks of pregnancy, but that some states are moving to restrict access to as early as six weeks, before many people know they are pregnant.
  • The other half were given no context, but it made little difference to anti-Roe voters. The vast majority across both samples said they support abortion bans at six, 15, 20 and 23 weeks of pregnancy.

The May 3 and May 6-9, 2022, surveys were conducted among representative samples of about 2,000 registered voters each, with unweighted margins of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Morning Consult