Views on abortion vary widely based on which social groups Americans belong to

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
June 16, 2022, 2:42 PM GMT+0

Data from the latest Economist/YouGov poll finds that opinions on if and when abortion should be legal vary widely across different social and demographic groups. Among the groups whose opinion was examined that are most supportive of legalizing abortion in all circumstances are liberals, atheists, and people who identify as pro-choice. Among those who are most likely to say abortion should never be allowed are conservatives, Protestants, and people who identify as pro-life.

As Americans anticipate the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Economist/YouGov polling finds that opinion on overturning the landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade remains relatively steady. After a brief uptick in support for overturning Roe following the leak of the Supreme Court’s draft Dobbs decision, the share of Americans who would like it overturned has now returned to pre-leak levels. Currently, 33% support overturning the landmark abortion decision, while 49% oppose overturning it.

Men are currently 9 percentage points more likely than women to support overturning the decision.

Republicans are 37 percentage points more likely to support overturning it than Democrats.

Views on the circumstances in which abortion should be allowed have remained relatively stable since we asked about them in a similar way last September (an alternative question format has yielded slightly higher levels of support). A majority of Americans say it should be legal for a woman to obtain an abortion if…

  • The woman's own health is seriously endangered by the pregnancy (68% say it should be allowed)
  • The woman became pregnant as a result of rape (67%)
  • The woman became pregnant as a result of incest (64%)
  • The baby is diagnosed with a congenital disorder resulting in little or no life expectancy (59%)

Nearly half of Americans (47%) approve of companies providing assistance to employees to go to other states to have abortions that wouldn’t be allowed in their home state. A little more than one in three (35%) oppose companies doing this. People who say that abortion is hard to access in their state are even more supportive than Americans overall – 62% approve of companies assisting employees with accessing abortion.

How willing are Americans to support candidates who take certain stances on abortion? When asked whether they could support a candidate who approves of a woman's right to have an abortion even in the third trimester, 25% say yes, 28% say maybe, and 46% say no. In terms of a candidate on the other end of the spectrum – one who opposes a woman's right to have an abortion even in cases of rape and incest – 19% of Americans say yes, they could support them; 26% say maybe, and 55% say no.

There has been some shift among certain subgroups on support for a candidate who supports the right to a third-trimester abortion since we last asked these two candidate-support questions in early May. The share of women who say yes, they could vote for a candidate who supports the right to third-trimester abortion has risen to 30% from 24%. The share of Republicans who report a willingness to vote for a candidate with this stance on abortion has also risen, to 14% from 8%.

— Carl Bialik and Linley Sanders contributed to this article

This poll was conducted on June 11 - 14, 2022 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens. Explore more on the methodology and data for this Economist/YouGov poll

Image: Getty