In 2013, a Post-ABC poll found 55 percent of Americans said abortion should be legal in all or most cases. The increase in support for legal abortion has increased in part due to large growth in support among independent women voters (up 16 points to 71 percent) and Democrats (up 12 points to 77 percent).
A 41 percent plurality of Americans want their own states to avoid making it either harder or easier for women to have access to abortion. Fewer (32 percent) say their states should make it easier and fewer still (24 percent) say their states should make it harder for women to have access to abortion.
Many states have recently passed laws to limit abortion, and some, such as Georgia, have tried to effectively ban it. Many of these restrictions are being challenged and could eventually wind up before the Supreme Court.
Most Americans have circumstantial views of abortion laws – a majority say that abortion should be either legal in most cases (33 percent) or illegal in most cases (22 percent). About 4 in 10 say it should always be legal or illegal, with roughly twice as many who say abortion should be legal in all cases (27 percent) as say it should be illegal (14 percent).
Even within party ranks, allowing or banning abortion in all cases is a minority position. Among Democrats, 77 percent say abortion should be at least mostly legal, but just over 4 in 10 (42 percent) say it should be legal in all cases. Among Republicans, 52 percent say it should be at least mostly illegal, but fewer than a quarter, 22 percent, want it to be illegal in all cases.
Examining annual averages in opinions toward abortion across Post-ABC and Pew Research Center polling since the mid-1990s, support for legal abortion was last this high in Post-ABC polling in 1995, right before the country saw a decrease in the abortion rate. In 2015, the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the abortion rate reached a historic low.
Opposition to abortion was highest in 2010, when 45 percent of Americans said it should be illegal in most or all cases and 52 percent said it should be legal.
Looking ahead to 2020, just over 6 in 10 Americans say abortion is either “one of the single most important issues” in their vote or a “very important issue.” Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say that abortion is an important issue in their vote for president, 71 percent versus 57 percent.