While more than six in 10 registered voters continue to believe the U.S. Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade, the latest Fox News poll also finds over half favor banning abortions after 15 weeks.
The new national poll was completed shortly before Monday night’s leak of Associate Justice Samuel Alito’s draft majority opinion showing the high court may be poised to strike down the landmark Roe ruling.
At issue for the Supreme Court is a Mississippi law that would ban abortions, except in certain cases, after 15 weeks of pregnancy and return the question of abortion and its legality back to the states.
"If Roe v. Wade is overturned, it will be a hand grenade in the middle of an already chaotic political environment," says Democratic pollster Chris Anderson, whose company Beacon Research conducts the Fox News survey along with Republican pollster Daron Shaw. "There are so many potential repercussions that predictions about how this will playout in the midterms are premature."
When asked how they would feel if such a law were passed in their state, just over half of voters favor it (54 percent) while 41 percent are opposed.
Voters were also asked how they felt about a similar ban (with medical exceptions) on abortion after only six weeks, which is the new standard in Texas. Voters split on this policy: 50% favor vs. 46% oppose.
The nine-week difference in the Mississippi and Texas laws appears consequential to voters. Some key groups like independents (+9), suburban women (+10), and moms (+11) are more likely to support a 15-week ban over a 6-week one, while others such as Hispanic voters (-8) and those who worship regularly (-5) are less likely.
Overall, sentiments on Roe have held mostly steady since 2018, when Fox first asked the question. On average, more than 60% (between 57% and 65%) say the case should remain the law of the land. The new poll finds 27% think the case should be overturned.
While there are partisan differences, Democrats (by 61 points), independents (+41), and Republicans (+13) agree Roe should stand.
Overall, 44% think abortion should be legal all (27%) or most of the time (17%), while a majority of 54% thinks it should be illegal all (11%) or most of the time (43%). The "legal" number is a record low and it’s also the first time the portion saying "illegal" has been above 50% on a Fox News poll.
Of the four positions, the largest share, 43%, thinks abortion should be illegal except in certain circumstances, such as rape, incest, and to save the mother’s life.
"Americans’ opinions on abortion are more nuanced than is often assumed," says Shaw. "Sixty percent think abortion should be legal, but with restrictions. The question is where to draw the line."
Concern over "abortion policy" lands at 11 in a list of 14 issues, with 69 percent saying they are "extremely" or "very" worried about it (prior to leaked draft SCOTUS opinion). That is up 7 points since September.
Trump voters (+12), seniors (+12), very conservative voters (+10), Blacks (+9), Hispanics (+9), and Catholics (+8) are some of those most likely to show increased concerned about abortion.
Voters who are extremely concerned about abortion policy want Roe to stand by a 60-33% margin, yet they split in their congressional vote preference (45% for the Democrat, 43% for the Republican).
Conducted April 28-May 1, 2022 under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R), this Fox News Poll includes interviews with 1,003 registered voters nationwide who were randomly selected from a national voter file and spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones. The total sample has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.