Majority of Americans want abortion to stay legal as it faces Supreme Court threat

433

Recent GOP attacks haven't shifted the public's support of abortion.

Anti-abortion lawmakers have made concerted efforts thus far in 2020 to implement more bans and restrictions on the medical procedure. But those efforts may have been in vain when it comes to changing people's minds. According to a new CBS poll published Monday, a large majority of people in the country still support abortion rights. 

As the country awaits a Supreme Court decision in a case that could radically reshape the availability of abortion, the poll found that 63% of Americans support keeping Roe v. Wade intact. Almost half — 49% — of self-identified Republicans agree with that view as well. 

The poll was taken in advance of the Supreme Court decision in June Medical Services LLC v. Russo, a major case looking at abortion restrictions. As the current Supreme Court term ends June 30, a decision is expected before then. 

Advertisement
Loading...

But some states haven't been waiting on the Supreme Court to help them ban abortion. The beginning of the year saw a spate of so-called "born-alive" abortion bills, which conservatives have argued are necessary to protect children who may be born during an abortion. Experts have said these bills serve no medical purpose, but instead rely on inflammatory language and unrealistic hypotheticals to stigmatize both doctors and patients. 

In February, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) conducted a hearing on such a bill, allowing anti-abortion activists to repeat long-debunked talking points about how abortion providers have a financial stake in providing abortions later in pregnancy. 

West Virginia passed a "born-alive" bill that some GOP backers outright admitted was only about sending a political message — not solving an actual problem. Kentucky tried to pass a similar bill but ran out of time to overrule a veto by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear. 

In Wyoming, the legislature passed a "born-alive" bill that was so unnecessary even the state's hard-line anti-abortion governor, Republican Mark Gordon, vetoed the bill. In his veto statement, he pointed out that laws in Wyoming already prevent people from denying care to a child. 

The coronavirus pandemic also provided many states with a convenient excuse to ban abortion for a time by declaring that the procedure was "nonessential." As a result, for several weeks in March and April, the status of abortion access was unclear for anyone seeking care in those states. 

Arkansas initially banned it entirely but then said people could have an abortion if they had a COVID-19 test within 48 hours prior to the procedure, even though the tests weren't widely available. Lengthy litigation in Texas during April meant the availability of abortion there changed nearly daily. And Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, and Oklahoma all tried to use the pandemic as an excuse to ban abortion, with varying degrees of success. 

However, these recent GOP attempts to restrict and ban abortions have done little to change the fact that most Americans believe abortion should be legal and available. 

But they have succeeded in making abortions harder to get. A recent study in Ohio found that as the state placed greater restrictions on abortions, patients were getting the procedure later. Another study showed that abortion regulations can dramatically increase the cost of the procedure without providing any added safety. 

Research has shown that when costs increase, access decreases. A report released by Ibis Reproductive Health found that searching for financial resources to cover the costs of an abortion can delay people from receiving abortion care, "forcing some women to have later abortions and increasing the costs and potential health risks of an unintended pregnancy."

The country is waiting to learn whether the Supreme Court will give the green light to further restrictions. But for now, the American public stands firmly behind the right to get an abortion.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.