In the past almost 40 years, our stance on abortion has swung forth and now back. Today, 51% of Americans say they favor the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision to make abortions legal up to three months into a pregnancy – and 44% oppose – figures that are almost identical to what they were 36 years ago when we first asked the question.
Most folks (53%) have a nuanced view of the issue – supporting abortion in some circumstances but not all – and about 6 in 10 favor changes to the current laws (making abortion either easier or more difficult to obtain, primarily the latter).
The stereotypically more liberal and/or more privileged demographics in our country are more likely to uphold the Supreme Court decision – Gen Y-ers, young baby boomers, women, the more affluent and the higher educated. But there are a few hidden surprises:
- Gen Xers are more likely to oppose than favor the Supreme Court decision – and appear very similar on the issue to their Mature counterparts.
- People of color (both African-Americans and Hispanics) are much more likely to oppose the decision than their White counterparts.
- About 4 in 10 adults who align with either the Republican or Democratic political parties don’t support their party’s platform on the abortion issue. That is, 39% of Republicans favor – and 36% of Democrats oppose – the Supreme Court decision to make abortions legal in early pregnancy.
As we welcome a new Justice to our highest Court, how should we reflect on abortion as a political issue – when it appears so profoundly personal?