Which states would want to outlaw abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade?

Linley SandersData Journalist
Carl BialikU.S. Politics Editor and Vice President of Data Science
Delia BaileySenior Vice President of Data Science, Innovations
September 16, 2021, 2:27 PM GMT+0

Abortion rights, facing increased restrictions in more than a dozen states and the Supreme Court, are broadly popular in three quarters of U.S. states.

As Texas restricts abortion rights, more than a dozen other states are considering doing the same. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case that could overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 Court decision that limits government restriction of abortion rights. But even as abortion rights face potential new limits from statehouses and courthouses, YouGov has estimated the proportion of adults in each state who favor or oppose abortion being legal.

A series of interviews of 265,813 people conducted since Sept. 2020 shows that a majority of adults in three-quarters of U.S. states favor broad abortion rights, when asked about their position on abortion. People living in states where a majority of adults favor abortion rights in most cases make up 87% of the U.S. population.1

The YouGov estimates of public opinion on abortion by state, based on a multilevel regression and post-stratification (MRP) model, show that support for legal abortion in most or all cases is above 50% in many states that have recently tightened rules on abortion or are considering laws that would do so: Florida (60%), Ohio (57%), Georgia (54%) and Texas (54%). In Mississippi, whose law the Supreme Court may take up in the upcoming session, 41% of adults back legal abortion in most cases — the lowest level of any U.S. state.

While support for abortion being legal is tied closely to party politics, there are some notable deviations. The percentage of adults in a state who back most abortions being legal is highly correlated with President Joe Biden’s share of a state’s 2020 presidential election voters who cast a vote for him or Donald Trump.

In California, Mississippi and Hawaii, Biden’s share of the major party vote is nearly identical to the share of adults who back abortion rights. But in Wyoming, where Biden won just 28% of the two-party vote share, 49% of adults think most or all abortions should be legal.

It takes legislatures in 38 states to clear the high bar of ratifying a constitutional amendment; in 37 states and Washington, D.C., more than half of adults back legal abortion in most cases.

—Data support by Joe Williams and Ian Davis

Contact uspress@yougov.com for more information about this data

Methodology: These estimates of state-level abortion opinion are based on 265,813 interviews conducted over the past year (September 1, 2020 - September 10, 2021). Although there is a large amount of data, it is not evenly distributed across states. We use a technique called Multilevel Regression and Post-stratification (MRP, originally developed by Andrew Gelman of Columbia University) to produce the estimates. A multilevel regression model is used to predict respondents’ support for abortion in “all” or “most” cases based upon their demographics, as well as their state's 2020 vote for Trump. The post-stratification step uses the 2019 American Community Survey (ACS) public use microdata file and 2020 state-level vote to correctly represent the U.S. population in each state. The model was estimated using Stan.

1 State population counts are based on July 1, 2020 population estimates from the U.S. Census.