A new Gallup poll found that nearly three out of five Americans are dissatisfied with U.S. abortion policies—a record number driven by Democratic and Independent dissatisfaction towards increasingly strict abortion laws.
From 2001 until 2016, a roughly equal proportion of Americans were dissatisfied with abortion laws as Americans satisfied with with abortion laws. The latest number, from a January 2-15, 2020, survey, found 58 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with current abortion laws, marking an all-time high.
The 2020 poll also identified a mounting desire for less strict abortion laws—a stark contrast from previous polls that found Americans in favor of stricter abortion laws outnumbered those in favor of less strict abortion laws. A nearly equal number of Americans now want stricter laws (24 percent) as Americans who want more lenient laws (22 percent).
Lydia Saad, Gallup’s director of U.S. Social Research, stated that since Trump’s election, “Democrats have been less satisfied with the nation’s abortion policies and significantly more likely to say the laws should be less strict.” Meanwhile, “Independents went from leaning in favor of stricter laws to equal portions espousing each side of the issue.”
Saad states Trump’s rhetoric may be partially responsible for increasing dissatisfaction with abortion laws, however, the findings “also [align] with an increase in abortion restrictions.” In 2017 alone, states adopted 63 new abortion restrictions—the largest number of restrictions since 2013.
While this number decreased slightly in 2019, the Guttmacher Institute emphasizes the 2019 restrictions are increasingly harsh. Nearly half of the 2019 restrictions sought to ban all, most, or some abortions.
Saad remains skeptical as to whether this shift in opinion could affect 2020 voting habits. “Democrats’ heightened alarm about reproductive rights may help their party in the 2020 election if Democrats are more motivated than usual to vote on the issue, or if the issue influences more independents than usual to support the Democratic candidate,” Saad pointed out. “However, this could change after the primaries when the Democratic nominee and Trump are able to debate the issue directly.”
Sources: Gallup, 1/22/2020 ; Guttmacher Institute, 1/2/2018, 12/10/2019