Poll: Abortion rights divide Americans

Abortion has long been a contentious issue in the United States, and it is one that sharply divides Americans along partisan, ideological and religious lines.

A line graph showing the public's views of abortion from 1995 to 2022

Today, a 61% majority of U.S. adults say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 37% think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. These views are relatively unchanged in the past few years.

Months before the Supreme Court’s historic decision in Dobbs overturning the Roe v. Wade precedent, a March Pew poll found deep disagreement between – and within – the parties over abortion. In fact, the partisan divide on abortion is far wider than it was two decades ago.

In the latest survey, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are 42 percentage points more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners to say abortion should be legal in all or most cases (80% vs. 38%). This gap is little changed over the last few years, but the current divide is wider than it was in the past. For instance, as recently as 2016, there was a 33-point gap between the shares of Democrats (72%) and Republicans (39%) who supported legal abortion in all or most cases.

There are ideological differences within both parties over abortion, though the divide is starker within the GOP. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, 60% of moderates and liberals say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared with just 27% of conservative Republicans.

For more on how the abortion issue cuts across race, religion and gender, click here.

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