Abortion Support Reaches New Low

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

The latest Pew poll finds that Americans are now split evenly on their opinion of abortion rights.* In an August survey 45% of respondents said they thought abortion should be illegal in all/most cases, 47% said legal. Last year same time those numbers were 41% and 54%, respectively. Whether these numbers match up to similar polls or not, the fact that the same language was used year-to-year by Pew means the data is worth noting. Yes, it’s a high bar that the respondent has to agree with the all/most cases assertion, but they also had to agree with it last year and the years before that.

As this graph shows, at least according to Pew measures, support for abortion is at its lowest since 1995, opposition near its highest. That people are more entrenched in their position after a hot election year and that conservatives are feeling defensive with a progressive in the White House who’s already appointed a Supreme Court Justice, these numbers are not all that surprising, if discouraging.

The survey also asked how critical people feel abortion is as a political issue. In 2006, 28% of respondents said abortion was a critical issue, in August just about half as many felt that way, 15%. These days #hcr and #climate are more the rage, and there is plenty else to get up in arms about. Still, it seems that conservatives can manage more pots on the stove; they can rally against finance reform, health care reform, Obama, et al and still keep up an effective fight against what might be secondary issues like abortion. Progressives are way too disorganized to handle such maneuvering.


*The addition of “rights” is mine. Pew asked if people are in support of legal abortions. Saying, do you support abortion, versus, do you support the right for a woman to choose is a very different question. As Kevin Drum points out, survey design is notoriously sensitive particularly when it comes to abortion.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend