A new survey found that the majority of voters support the kinds of abortion restrictions passed in Louisiana that are headed for a review by the Supreme Court — even after they are presented with arguments against the laws.
Sixty-nine percent of those polled by the Kaiser Family Foundation support laws restricting abortions unless they are carried out by doctors who have admitting privileges to local hospitals.
When presented with counterarguments saying that abortion complications are rare and that patients who do have complications can still get help at local hospitals, support dropped 17 percentage points but still constituted a slight majority at 52%. The survey showed 76% of those who originally answered in the affirmative stuck with their position.
The poll showed support for admitting privileges even though it also found that 67% of respondents think regulations on abortion providers are meant to make it more difficult for women to access abortion, compared with 32% who say they are to protect women’s health and safety.
The Supreme Court will hear and decide the question over admitting privileges ahead of Election Day. Anti-abortion advocates say the requirement is supposed to protect women in case something goes wrong, but abortion rights groups say they are overly burdensome and will cause clinics to close.
In 2016, the justices determined that the admitting privileges law passed in Texas posed an “undue burden” on women’s access to abortions. It will revisit the issue in March as a more conservative bench, to which Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch have since been confirmed. More than 200 members of Congress, most of them Republican, have asked the court to rule more broadly and to consider whether to overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide 47 years ago Wednesday.
If the Supreme Court were to do so, then the legal status of abortion would fall on states to determine. The survey released Wednesday found 69% of respondents don’t want Roe v. Wade to be overturned, but when the question was narrowed to Republicans, it showed 57% said they would want to see the ruling overturned.
Despite the high-profile case and states moving in opposite directions to enshrine or limit access to abortion, the issue won’t be a driving force for voters, the survey showed. It found only 6% of Democrats and 7% of Republicans cite “reproductive health issues, including birth control and abortion,” as “the most important issue” in the 2020 elections.
Democrats running to challenge President Trump in November, with the exception of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, have supported gutting all limits on abortion, while Trump has vowed to nominate anti-abortion Supreme Court justices. The majority of those polled in the latest survey, 62%, said that abortion should be legal with some limits. The poll didn’t ask voters whether they thought abortion should be limited to earlier stages of pregnancy.
Researchers conducted the poll largely online in a representative sample from Dec. 20-30, 2019, among 1,215 people.