As the 40th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision approaches, new polling finds that — despite the GOP’s best efforts to use religion as a wedge in the abortion rights debate — most religious groups don’t actually support overturning the court decision.
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life finds that a slight majority of white evangelicals, 54 percent, report they would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned. But that’s the only religious group that remains largely opposed to legal abortion access. Strong majorities of the other religious groups sampled would rather leave Roe in place — 76 percent of white Protestants, 65 percent of black Protestants, and 63 percent of white Catholics all support maintaining women’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.
Pew’s poll also confirms that even when religious Americans are personally opposed to abortion, they don’t favor making the medical procedure unavailable to other women who may choose it for themselves. This attitude is reflected in Planned Parenthood’s recent branding, as the women’s health group suggests they may move away from the “pro-choice” and “pro-life” labels. “A majority of Americans believe abortion should remain safe and legal. Many just don’t use the words pro-choice,” the group’s latest video asserts.
Although the anti-choice community attempts to brand women’s health issues as if they are always in opposition to religion, reproductive rights are not actually incompatible with faith communities. Just as most people of faith support maintaining women’s right to a legal abortion, religious people also support women’s access to affordable contraception. The GOP’s politicized effort to chip away at Catholic support for Obamacare’s birth control provision ended up falling flat, since a full 82 percent of Catholics believe birth control is morally acceptable. Even conservative evangelicals — the religious group that tends to be most hostile to reproductive rights — are slowly beginning to start supporting contraception and family planning services.