Support for Roe is Up, But Other Abortion Polling Divided and Steady

by Nathan L. Gonzales August 2, 2018 · 8:15 AM EDT

While recent polling from NBC News/Wall Street Journal showed an uptick in support for Roe v. Wade, other survey data on abortion reflects a remarkably consistent and nuanced approach from Americans on the choice issue that stretches across decades.

The recent survey of 900 registered voters, conducted July 15-18, showed 71 percent believe the 1973 decision, which established a woman’s legal right to an abortion, should be kept in place while 23 percent believe the ruling should be overturned.

Five years ago, Pew Research Center data showed 63 percent of registered voters believed Roe v. Wade should not be overturned, which was similar to results both in 2003 (62 percent) and 1992 (60 percent).

Media outlets such as Elle (Support for Roe v. Wade at an all-time high), Glamour (52 percent of Republicans support Roe v. Wade), The Washington Post (Trump makes abortion rights more popular than ever) and others picked up on the new numbers.

In addition, 44 percent of voters in the NBC/WSJ poll said they would be more likely to support a candidate who supports abortion rights compared to 26 percent who said they’d be more likely to support a candidate who backs restrictions on abortion.

While support for Roe has increased, the trend is not as clear-cut as the latest polling might suggest. According to past survey data, most voters are not comfortable with legal abortion without restrictions or limitations.

According to a Gallup poll in early May, 60 percent of adults said abortion should generally be legal during the first three months of a pregnancy. That number dipped to 28 percent for the second three months, and just 13 percent in the final trimester. What’s even more remarkable, is that sentiment has been nearly unchanged over the course of more than 20 years.

Overall, the number of people who describe themselves as pro-choice and pro-life has been consistent for at least a decade as well, according to Gallup. A couple months ago, 48 percent each identified as pro-life or pro-choice.