The majority of America is now pro-choice

How did that happen?

CREDIT: sebk/iStock
CREDIT: sebk/iStock

As we approach the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, more Americans than ever before oppose overturning it — a clear rebuttal of President-elect Trump’s anti-Roe position.

Recent research from the Pew Research Center indicates that 69 percent of Americans — or 7 in 10 — say Roe v. Wade should not be completely overturned. This represents a 6-point increase in the number of individuals who expressed this sentiment just a few years ago.

“Public opinion about the 1973 case has held relatively steady in recent decades, though the share saying the decision should not be overturned is up slightly from four years ago,” noted Pew research assistant Hannah Fingerhut. “In January 2013, 63% said this, which was similar to views measured in surveys conducted over the prior two decades.”

Democrats are more likely to support Roe v. Wade than their Republican counterparts: 84 percent of Democrats say the Supreme Court should not completely overturn Roe (an increase of 9 percentage points from 2013), compared to 53 percent — still a narrow majority — of Republicans.

CREDIT: Pew Research Center
CREDIT: Pew Research Center

“The numbers speak for themselves…an overwhelming majority of Americans continue to support keeping abortion legal and accessible,” said James Owens, a spokesperson for pro-choice organization NARAL. “What’s more, these numbers have only grown over time as more of our friends and neighbors support keeping the government out of our personal medical choices. With seven-in-ten Americans supporting legal and accessible abortion, that’s not just a majority, that’s a consensus.”

Indeed, support for Roe v. Wade crosses more than partisan lines. Pew’s research indicates that regardless of education level, gender, or age, Americans largely want Roe to remain the law of the land.

CREDIT: Pew Research Center
CREDIT: Pew Research Center

Majorities across all education levels say the Supreme Court should not overturn Roe v. Wade. What’s more, according to Fingerhut’s brief, “There are no significant differences in opinion on Roe v. Wade by gender: A majority of women and men both say the court should not completely overturn the decision. Younger adults (73%) are slightly more likely than older adults (64%) to say the decision should not be overturned, though majorities of both age groups say this.”

So how did an overwhelmingly pro-choice America end up with an incoming president who wants to put an end to Roe v. Wade and a GOP-controlled Congress that is hostile to reproductive rights?

If Americans based their votes solely on a candidate’s position on abortion, Trump might not be president. During the campaign, Trump promised to ban abortion, punish women who got abortions and doctors who perform them, and appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. What’s more, his cabinet picks read like the Who’s Who of anti-abortion zealots.

Our elected officials are now at complete odds with what the American public wants when it comes to abortion.

“Whoever Americans pulled the lever for, they certainly weren’t voting for politicians to restrict access to abortion or make basic health care, like birth control, more expensive,” said Owens.

Trump and his cohorts may do their best to obstruct legal access to abortion, but their efforts will undoubtedly be met with opposition.

Pro-choice advocates have already begun to seize this power, promising “good trouble” in 2017. All* Above All kicked off the new year with a six-figure advertising campaign to counter the Trump-Pence agenda, and Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) plan to re-introduce the EACH Woman Act this session, which would guarantee insurance coverage for abortion care.

Advocates have also filed lawsuits in three states — Alaska, Missouri, and North Carolina — attacking abortion restrictions and have promised similar moves in other states. Ordinary people have flooded Planned Parenthood — which is once again facing threats of being defunded — with donations in the wake of the presidential election. And abortion providers throughout the country are gearing up for the fight.

“Abortion is a common medical procedure that Americans overwhelmingly want to remain accessible,” said Owens. “That consensus is the source of great political power and bridges the partisan divide in the way that few other matters do. When leaders organize around this consensus, they can build significant and durable political power.”

With proactive actions such as these underway, the latest Pew research takes on a deeper meaning. These poll numbers aren’t just percentages on paper; they represent the fierce will of the pro-choice American public.