Health

Republican-Led States Are Pushing Through Abortion Restrictions Opposed by Most Voters

About 7 in 10 voters are against absolutist abortion bans, travel restrictions and criminalizing those who seek abortion care

People gather at the state Capitol to rally in support of abortion rights on May 3, 2022, in Salt Lake City, Utah. A new Morning Consult/Politico survey finds that majorities of registered voters are opposed to nearly all state-level initiatives that restrict or criminalize abortion. (George Frey/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court’s ruling last month to overturn Roe v. Wade triggered dozens of state-level abortion bans, along with a fresh set of legal challenges as various governors and legislatures push further to restrict abortion care. A new Morning Consult/Politico survey finds that most voters are opposed to almost a dozen state-level initiatives that curb or criminalize the procedure, suggesting the risk of an electoral backlash for the GOP in November’s midterm elections.

All but two abortion-related state measures opposed by most voters
  • A ban on all abortions, with no exceptions, garnered the strongest levels of opposition from voters (73%), while banning interstate travel for the procedure and criminalizing those who seek abortion services weren’t far behind (70% each). Another 68% of voters opposed laws such as Texas’ that permit private citizens to sue anyone who provides or assists in performing an abortion.
  • Only two of the 13 state-level initiatives surveyed weren’t opposed by a majority of voters: 47% were against a ban on abortions 15 weeks into pregnancy, while a slim majority (51%) favored banning abortions after fetal viability, roughly 23-24 weeks into pregnancy. Most Democrats were opposed to each of the measures tested.
  • Four state-level proposals were opposed by at least a slim majority of Republican voters: a no-exceptions abortion ban (60%), criminalizing patients who seek abortion care (56%), banning pregnant people from traveling out of state for an abortion (54%) and allowing citizens to file lawsuits against those who provide or assist in abortion care (51%). 
  • In an executive order issued last week, President Joe Biden sought to protect access to medication abortion, though legal analysts questioned whether the action can supersede laws in 13 states banning the pills. Roughly 3 in 5 voters oppose laws that would make it illegal to obtain medication abortion pills through the mail, including 60% of independents and 41% of Republicans.
Roe v. Wade decision has energized Democrats

After what some viewed as a listless initial response to the high court’s ruling, Biden ratcheted up his rhetoric on abortion rights last week in announcing the executive action. He and other leading Democrats have consistently called on the electorate to voice its displeasure at the ballot box — a call Democratic voters appear to have heeded.

Per the Morning Consult/Politico survey, 56% of Democrats said they’re “extremely” or “very” enthusiastic to vote in the midterm elections. That share has held steady following an 8-percentage-point jump in the aftermath of the Roe ruling, and Democrats are now favored by 4 points over Republicans in the generic ballot. In the three weeks leading up to the decision, Democrats led Republicans by an average of 1.3 percentage points. 

The survey also shows a rise in Democratic voters’ prioritization of women’s issues such as birth control, abortion and equal pay. When asked to think about their top set of issues when voting for federal office, 24% of Democrats said women’s issues ranked highest, representing a 7-point bump since before the Supreme Court ruling and trailing only economic issues (28%) in the new survey. 

On the Supreme Court decision itself, 55% of voters now disapprove of the ruling, a 5-point increase from late June, while 35% of voters back the decision, a 5-point decline over the same period. Four in 5 Democrats and 53% of independents are opposed to the high court’s opinion, compared with 62% of GOP voters who support it. 

The July 8-10, 2022, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 2,005 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points.

Morning Consult