The Supreme Court Appears Likely to Strike Down Roe v. Wade. Voters Are Most Likely to Say It Should Be Upheld

Survey comes amid fallout over leaked draft opinion to reverse abortion rights ruling
Abortion-rights and anti-abortion activists confront one another in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building on May 03, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
May 04, 2022 at 6:00 am UTC

Key Takeaways

  • Half of voters said Roe should not be overturned, up from 45% who said the same in December.

  • 47% of voters said they would support a bill to codify abortion rights.

  • 23% of voters had seen, read or heard “a lot” about the high court’s draft decision.

Voters are increasingly likely to say the Supreme Court should not overturn Roe v. Wade, according to a new Morning Consult/Politico survey that comes as a leaked draft of the high court’s ruling to strike down the landmark 1973 decision reverberates across the country.

The survey was conducted the day after news broke that the court plans to overturn Roe, which established federal abortion rights, and indicates that relatively few voters believe the ruling should be reversed entirely (28%). Half of voters said Roe should not be overturned, up from 45% who said the same in December. And while voters have become much more likely to say they think Roe will fall, which would limit abortion access for tens of millions of Americans, it’s too early to say whether the political fallout will stick.

The high court appears poised to roll back Roe when it issues a final decision this summer. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the draft majority opinion obtained by Politico was genuine but “does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.” Roberts also said he ordered an investigation into how the draft became public, given such leaks are rare.

The ruling would upend the country’s reproductive care landscape. State policymakers have been chipping away at abortion access for years, but lawmakers in 24 states would likely ban it outright if Roe were reversed, according to an analysis from the Center for Reproductive Rights. Some have already tried to bar pregnant people from traveling to other states to obtain abortions.


Voters tend to back congressional action to codify Roe, but are doubtful it would pass

The draft likely came as a surprise to many, given in December 2021, just 40% of voters said they thought the Supreme Court would likely reverse the ruling. And it’s already prompting calls for action from Congress: Just under half of voters said they would support a bill to codify abortion rights, including 63% of Democrats.

They’re less confident, however, in Congress’ ability to pass legislation, with 39% saying it’s likely and 36% saying it’s unlikely.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he plans to hold a vote next week on abortion rights legislation, which has been stalled since the House passed it last year. In a statement, President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass a bill and urged people to vote for “pro-choice officials.”

Regardless of Roe, voters are more than twice as likely to say abortion should be legal nationally than that it should be illegal. Just under half of voters said abortion should be legal nationwide, while another 21% said it should be illegal across the country and 19% said the issue should be left to the states. Relatively few voters believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases (35%).

How abortion politics might affect the midterms

Abortion has long been used as a political football, and leaders are already using the decision to rally voters around the 2022 midterm elections. In the survey, 79% of Democrats said it’s important to vote for a candidate who supports abortion access, while 60% of Republicans said it’s important to vote for someone who opposes it.

Asked how they feel about the Supreme Court’s draft opinion, Democrats were most likely to say they feel “worried” and “frustrated,” while Republicans said they were “hopeful” and “happy” and voters of both parties were “interested.” Yet it’s still unclear whether the energy will translate to action at the ballot box come November.

As of Tuesday afternoon, just 23% of voters had seen, read or heard “a lot” about the high court’s draft decision. And, just as was the case in a Morning Consult/Politico survey conducted over the weekend, Republicans remain more likely than Democrats to say they are “very” or “extremely” enthusiastic about voting in November.

A headshot photograph of Gaby Galvin
Gaby Galvin

Gaby Galvin previously worked at Morning Consult as a reporter covering health.

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