Alabama’s new law that outlaws nearly all abortions, which was signed by Governor Kay Ivey in May, draws only limited support from the American public, according to the latest Economist/YouGov Poll. Twice as many oppose the law as support it.
The Alabama abortion law, considered the most restrictive state law in the country, limits abortion to cases where it “is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk" to the woman, without exceptions for rape or incest.
Sizable differences exist between Republican and Democratic opinions about the Alabama law (and about abortion in general). Half of Republicans say they support the new law, while three-quarters of Democrats oppose it. Opposition to the law is higher among women than among men. Catholics overall oppose the law, though observant Catholics are evenly divided.
Most of the public has paid at least some attention to coverage about the Alabama law, and half of adults saying they had heard “a lot” about it. This most aware group is even more likely than the public overall to oppose it (66% oppose the law while 25% support it).
The recent adoption of laws restricting abortion, not just in Alabama, but also in Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, Mississippi, Georgia, Utah and Arkansas, has changed the groups that report the most concern about abortion as a national issue. Earlier this year, Republicans were slightly more likely than Democrats to say that abortion was a “very important” issue for them. Now, more Democrats than Republicans say that.
In this week’s poll, there is a 20-point difference in the percentages of men and women who say abortion is a “very important” issue for them. Those who feel strongly about the Alabama law – on both sides – are the most likely to say the issue is very important to them.
Those opposing the Alabama law don’t necessarily favor abortion on demand. Less than half of those who oppose the law think abortion should always be legal. Overall, only one in four Americans believes abortions should always be legal. On the other hand, just 14% would make all abortions illegal. Most say they would accept limits of some kind, either limiting abortions to specific cases (like rape, incest, or the health of the mother), or making it legal only during the first trimester, or until the fetus is viable outside the womb.