ONTD Political

Poll: Majority, for first time, want abortion to be legal

7:30 pm - 01/22/2013
As the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision takes place on Tuesday, a majority of Americans – for the first time – believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

What’s more, seven in 10 respondents oppose Roe v. Wade being overturned, which is the highest percentage on this question since 1989.

“These are profound changes,” says Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted this survey with Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart and his colleagues.

McInturff adds that the abortion-related events and rhetoric over the past year – which included controversial remarks on abortion and rape by two Republican Senate candidates, as well as a highly charged debate over contraception – helped shaped these changing poll numbers.

“The dialogue we have had in the last year has contributed … to inform and shift attitudes.”

The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision established a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, at least in the first three months of pregnancy.

According to the poll, 54 percent of adults say that abortion should be legal either always or most of the time, while a combined 44 percent said it should be illegal – either with or without exceptions.

That’s the first time since this poll question was first asked in 2003 that a majority maintained that abortion should be legal. Previously (with just one exception in 2008), majorities said abortion should be illegal.

In addition, a whopping 70 percent of Americans oppose the Roe v. Wade decision being overturned, including 57 percent who feel strongly about this.

That’s up from the 58 percent who said the decision shouldn’t be overturned in 1989; the 60 percent who said this in 2002; and the 66 percent who said this in 2005.

By comparison, just 24 percent now want the Roe v. Wade decision overturned, including 21 percent who feel strongly about this position.

Much of this change, the NBC/WSJ pollsters say, is coming from African Americans, Latinos and women without college degrees -- all of whom increasingly oppose the Supreme Court decision being overturned.

The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Jan. 12-15 of 1,000 adults (including 300 cellphone-only respondents), and it has a margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.

tabaqui 23rd-Jan-2013 05:27 am (UTC)
betray802 23rd-Jan-2013 05:30 pm (UTC)
My father's older sister deliberately got pregnant so 1. She wouldn't have to be in her brother's wedding -- she got pregnant AFTER Mom had asked her to be the matron of honor AND she had already said yes! 2. The wedding would be overshadowed by everyone on Dad's side discussing when Judy was going to have the baby.

She has, unfailingly, treated her son like something the shit on her shoes stepped in, for the past 43 years.
escherzo 23rd-Jan-2013 05:58 pm (UTC)
This exactly. One of the defining things that led to me breaking from my parents' Catholic position on abortion was a friend I had in middle school--her mother was underage when she got pregnant and her mother was anti-abortion and made her keep the child. My poor friend got told, to her face, "If I'd had a choice you wouldn't exist" when she and her mother fought. No child should have to have that hanging over their head.
lovedforaday 23rd-Jan-2013 02:08 am (UTC)
Watch the Repubs start talking about late-term abortions to try to turn the public opinion back in their favor
subversive_kiwi 23rd-Jan-2013 02:24 am (UTC)
In 3... 2... 1...
alexvdl 23rd-Jan-2013 02:59 am (UTC)
And in a disturbing turn of events the Roe in Roe vs. Wade is now militantly catholic and devoted to overturning it.


I don't understand that all. An amazing thing for this country and women and... now hates herself for it.
emofordino 23rd-Jan-2013 03:02 am (UTC)
ugh, that is so disappointing!
idemandjustice 23rd-Jan-2013 03:17 am (UTC)
I think that's actually not new, but few people seem to know about it.
teacoat 23rd-Jan-2013 07:02 am (UTC)
I heard about it in Sunday school 12 years ago or so, so yeah, not new.
moonshaz 23rd-Jan-2013 11:42 pm (UTC)
I've been aware of it for some time now, so yeah, it's not new.
astridmyrna 23rd-Jan-2013 03:22 am (UTC)
Welp, that's depressing.
bellonia 23rd-Jan-2013 04:23 am (UTC)
I saw a comment somewhere, so, clearly my source is questionable and I'm willing to admit that, but Roe was hounded constantly by the pro-life lobby and when she broke down they were so generous as to be there to pick her back up in their image. :/
alexvdl 23rd-Jan-2013 04:30 am (UTC)
Wouldn't be surprised at all. I'll be happy when conservatives realize that the only people who give a fuck about their religion are the people OF that religion. Seriously. If the Republican party stopped whinging about abortion and gay marriage, dropped their bullshit attacks on female reproductive rights and the ability of consenting adults, regardless of gender or sexuality, to marry, they might find themselves enjoying a helluva lot more good will.
moonshaz 23rd-Jan-2013 11:43 pm (UTC)
They WOULD be enjoying a lot more good will. Tons of it. I'd bet money.
emofordino 23rd-Jan-2013 03:05 am (UTC)
i am happy to hear this, after listening to the news updates on NPR today where a anti-choice organization's spokesperson was talking about how "the majority of women want common-sense restrictions on abortion to protect life."

i can't believe that we're still arguing about this FOUR DECADES after we legalized it. come on, people, forget about things that have no effect on you and focus on your own personal life instead. not a difficult concept!
redstar826 23rd-Jan-2013 03:25 am (UTC)
and the annoying thing is, I think its actually more controversial now than it was back in the 1970s. Shortly after Roe v Wade my mom worked in a hospital that provided abortions as part of their out patient services. From the way she talks, when they started offering them, it was really no big deal. The vast majority of staff didn't care and it really wasn't considered to be controversial at all. They certainly didn't have to worry about protesters or anything like that.
moonshaz 23rd-Jan-2013 11:45 pm (UTC)
It is DEFINITELY more controversial now. At the time the Roe decision was handed down, I don't even remember any major religions particularly objecting except for the Catholic Church. I'm not sure when it became such a hot issue for evangelicals, but it definitely wasn't till well AFTER Roe.

Edited at 2013-01-23 11:45 pm (UTC)
windy_lea 24th-Jan-2013 03:45 am (UTC)
Then who's made money off of turning it into more of a controversy than it was when it was put into effect? Because, seriously, there has to be a grab for money or power involved to explain why people would suddenly care so much more.
agentsculder 23rd-Jan-2013 03:29 am (UTC)
The thing is: polls on abortion are very easily swayed depending on how the questions are asked. A lot of times the pro-life side likes to point out that if you ask people: should abortion be legal all of the time, you will rarely poll over 50% (in this poll they got a 54% majority to the question all or MOST of the time). If you ask: should partial birth abortions be legal, you won't get a majority. Ever.

Pro-lifers interpret those type of answers to mean most people are in favor of restricting abortion. They RARELY ask the question: do you think abortion should be ALWAYS illegal.
mutive 23rd-Jan-2013 01:31 pm (UTC)
Pretty much.

IT's easy to get up in arms about the hypothetical bad girl who gets her jollies off of getting pregnant than having abortions the day before the baby is due. (Never mind that this woman doesn't actually exist, that late term abortions are already restricted, and that pretty much all of them are due to severe fetal deformities - and by severe, we're discussing the baby wouldn't live anyway for more than a few weeks.)

It's a bit harder when you're asked, "If your 13 year old daughter was raped, got pregnant, and had an illegal abortion, would you try her for murder?"

The first doesn't happen. The second does. Virtually *everyone* disapproves of the first (despite that she doesn't actually exist). Virtually no one would turn in their daughter (despite that this case *does* exist).

The problem is that only one side is operating in reality.
zinnia_rose 23rd-Jan-2013 07:19 am (UTC)
Well it's about fucking time.

Ranty tangent: I'm sick of women who are all "I'm pro-life because I'd never have an abortion, but I don't think it should be illegal." Um, yeah. You're pro-choice.
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