Abortion, Pregnancy, Women's Health

Trump’s Next High Court Pick Likely To Target Abortion. Is That What The Public Wants?

President Donald Trump has vowed that his nominees to the Supreme Court will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

He seems to have made good on this promise with the appointment to the high court of Neil Gorsuch, whom experts expect to rule that way if given the chance.

Trump will now get another opportunity to reshape the bench with this week’s retirement announcement by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

But a Kaiser Family Foundation poll out early Friday suggests that’s not what most of the public wants.

The foundation’s June tracking poll found that Americans oppose overturning Roe V. Wade by 38 percentage points — 67 vs. 29 percent.

Among Democrats and independents, support for keeping the ruling intact is even stronger, 81 percent and 73 percent respectively, according to the poll.

But the opposition does not hold across party lines.

A majority of Republicans — 53 percent — said they want the case reversed. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.)

Respondents to the poll also opposed recent Trump administration efforts to restrict federal funding for Planned Parenthood on the grounds that it uses non-federal funds to perform abortions.

A total of 57 percent opposed the new rules, including 67 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of independents. Even a plurality of Republicans opposed the rules — 48 percent, compared with 46 percent who expressed support.

Those findings are in line with a recent deep dive into public opinion on abortion by Gallup.

Gallup, which has been asking Americans about abortion since 1962 — more than a decade before Roe v. Wade was decided — found that unlike other social issues, for which public opinions have changed over time, abortion views have stayed relatively stable. And the public is equally divided between those who call themselves “pro-choice” (48 percent) and “pro-life” (48 percent).

Still, Gallup found that within those percentages, the public remains muddled, and generally in favor of restrictions, such as how long into a pregnancy an abortion can be performed or the reasons a woman is seeking the abortion. Just under 30 percent said abortion should be legal under any circumstances, while only 18 percent said it should be illegal under any circumstances. Fifty percent say it should be legal “only under certain circumstances.”

Like the Kaiser Family Foundation, Gallup found strong support for Planned Parenthood, with 62 percent saying they hold a “favorable opinion” of the reproductive health group.

Republicans were the only major demographic group with an unfavorable opinion of Planned Parenthood (63 percent) along with those who identify themselves as “pro-life” (59 percent).

But even in those groups more than a third of respondents approved of Planned Parenthood. Large majorities of Democrats, independents, men, women and people of all age groups have a favorable opinion of the organization, despite recent attacks on it by Trump and congressional Republicans.

Gallup said that support has remained relatively consistent since 2015, although margins have grown narrower since the 1990s.

The Kaiser Family Foundation poll was conducted June 11-20 among 1,492 adults. The margin of error is +/-3 percentage points for the full sample.

Gallup’s findings on abortion attitudes are based on its annual Values and Beliefs poll, conducted May 1-10.  It has a margin of error of +/-4 percentage points. Its Planned Parenthood poll was done in June and has a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points.

KHN’s coverage of women’s health care issues is supported in part by The David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.