It’s been less than six weeks since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, and whew, boy. Things are bad.
We’ve seen 10-year-old victims of rape being forced across state lines for what would likely be a life-saving medical procedure. People with disabilities or chronic conditions have been denied long-term medication – when they’re not even pregnant. Legal and medical experts are warning that more women will be criminalized and put in mortal danger because of a miscarriage, which can affect 10-20 percent of all pregnancies.
There are countless stories of pregnant people having their lives put in danger for fear of being prosecuted for aborting a baby that could never have survived in any case, and people with life-threatening conditions such as ectopic pregnancies or partial miscarriages being left to suffer for days as physicians try to balance their Hippocratic Oath with the law of the land.
And all this for a policy that isn’t even supported by the majority of citizens.
A new KFF poll, conducted over the first half of July, has found that Americans who disapprove of the decision to overturn Roe outnumber those who approve by a factor of two to one. And after years of proclaiming that abortion rights should be a state-level matter, Republicans may yet find themselves hoisted by their own petard: most adults surveyed, including majorities of Democrats, independents, and women between the ages of 18 and 49, want their state laws to guarantee access to abortion – even in states where pre-Roe abortion bans or trigger laws have already come into force.
“Instead of increasing democratic representation, the Dobbs ruling [which prompted the overturning of Roe v Wade] has actually widened the gap between public preferences and public policy, both nationwide and within many states,” wrote Harvard Kennedy School researchers Matthew Baum, Alauna Safarpour, and Kristin Lunz Trujillo in a recent article for The Conversation.
While the authors are not affiliated with the KFF survey, their findings too reflect the result found by so many pollsters since the Dobbs ruling: that Americans – like most people globally, in fact – support abortion access. Even among Republicans – the only group polled by KFF to overall approve of the recent Supreme Court ruling – there’s lower support for state-level bans than for simply overturning Roe.
“Not only are state-level policies currently unaligned with state-level public opinion,” Baum et al write, “but, since the Dobbs decision was announced, Americans also increasingly appear to prefer fewer restrictions on abortion, even as many states are moving to enact more restrictions.”
That may be bad news for the GOP. Overturning abortion rights has long been a rallying cry for Republican politicians in the USA – but now that the goal of toppling Roe has been realized, that pet issue might be coming back to haunt them. As we saw only yesterday in Kansas, there’s majority support for abortion rights even in deep red states – and the KFF poll also found a sharp increase in the number of folks who list abortion access as “very important” in guiding their midterm votes this year.
“Lower-turnout midterm elections can be a game of inches, and abortion could make a difference, especially if gas prices continue to fall,” KFF President and CEO Drew Altman said in a statement accompanying the results.
“It’s motivating a lot of younger women to vote, and most Democrats, half of independents and even some Republicans plan to vote for candidates who support abortion access.”