Most Americans think abortion should be legal to some extent

Jamie BallardData Journalist
July 11, 2020, 1:00 PM UTC

The Supreme Court of the United States recently ruled to strike down a Louisiana law that required doctors who perform abortions to have the right to admit patients to a local hospital. The court decided that this law was unconstitutional because it placed an undue burden on people seeking abortions.  

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote, “Enforcing the admitting-privileges requirement would drastically reduce the number and geographic distribution of abortion providers, making it impossible for many women to obtain a safe, legal abortion in the State and imposing substantial obstacles on those who could.” 

Data from the latest Economist/YouGov Poll finds that 36 percent of Americans approve of the Supreme Court’s decision, while 28 percent disapprove. Almost two in five (37%) are unsure about their stance.  

Democrats (48%) are more likely than Independents (30%) and Republicans (25%) to say they approve of the Supreme Court’s decision. About two in five (39%) Republicans disapprove.  

Many Americans believe that abortion should be legal – though some say it should only be allowed in certain circumstances.  

Almost one quarter (23%) say that abortion should always be legal, with no restrictions. More than one-third (36%) of Democrats hold this belief, along with 25 percent of Independents and 6 percent of Republicans.  

About three in 10 Americans (31%) say abortion should be legal with some restrictions, and an equal number (31%) say it should only be legal in special circumstances, such as when the life of the mother is in danger. About one in seven (14%) say that abortion should be completely illegal.  

Overall, slightly more Americans say they are pro-choice (35%) rather than pro-life (28%). An additional 22 percent say they are both pro-life and pro-choice.  

Supreme Court Abortion Decision

Among those who are pro-life, 46 percent disapprove of the Supreme Court’s recent decision. Pro-choice Americans are more likely (54%) to say that they approve of the court’s ruling. 

See the toplines and crosstabs from this week's Economist/YouGov Poll

Related: Will COVID-19 unite or divide the nation? 

MethodologyThe most recent Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between July 5 - 7, 2020. The approximate margin of error is 3.2 percentage points for the overall sample. Samples are weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens.  

Image: Getty