New polling conducted by NBC News has found that American opposition to overturning Roe v. Wade is at a record high. The poll was conducted after the draft Supreme Court majority opinion overturning Roe was leaked earlier this month.
Abortion access has become a more important political priority for those polled than it has been in previous years, too. NBC has been conducting polls on Americans’ support for abortion since 2003.
Sixty-three percent of respondents indicated they oppose the Supreme Court overturning Roe, which is what the high court is poised to do if the leaked draft of the majority opinion is indicative of a final ruling. We’ll know whether or not it is by the end of the summer, but political observers, politicians, the media, pro-abortion and anti-abortion advocates, voters and most other sectors of American public life are safely running with the assumption that Roe will be struck down, given what we saw during oral arguments on the case in December.
NBC News also found that 60 percent of Americans support abortion being either always legal (37 percent), or legal most of the time (23 percent). On the other end of the spectrum, just 32 percent of respondents indicated they believed abortion should be illegal with some exceptions. Only 5 percent of those polled said it should be completely illegal, with no exceptions.
That number seems really important. Outright bans with no exceptions for rape, incest or human trafficking have been proposed, and, in some cases, have become law in some red states, such as Oklahoma, in recent months as the nation prepares for a post-Roe America. The-more-extreme-the-better has been the flavor of proposals popping up in red states across the union — in Louisiana, some Republicans in the state legislature pushed to have murder charges for women who get abortions added to the abortion restricting bill currently being debated in the state legislature. The proposal was eventually dropped, but that brand of extreme thinking is starkly out of line with Americans’ thinking on the issue, according to this poll.
The results on either end of the spectrum are hardly surprising. American support for abortion access has been on the rise for years. NBC conducted a similar poll in 2013 that found 45 percent of those surveyed were in support of abortion being legal. In 2018, NBC News found that 55 percent supported the same.
While overturning Roe has been the Republican Party’s most concentrated political goal for decades, Republicans are finding themselves in a tricky spot because of how popular access to abortion has become among Americans of all political ideologies. NBC has a more in-depth breakdown of the polling on support for keeping Roe intact depending on political party, but support is obviously higher among Democrats. Thirty-three percent of Republican respondents said they supported keeping abortion legal.
NBC surveyed 1,000 adult Americans for this poll, from May 5 to May 7 and May 9-10. The margin of error is 3.1 percentage points.
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