Fox News Poll: Voters split on abortion, but majority wants Roe v. Wade to endure

On the heels of controversial late-term abortion legislation from New York and Virginia in January and an early February Supreme Court ruling blocking a Louisiana state law that would have restricted access to the procedure, the latest Fox News Poll finds that voters remain divided on the issue.

The poll, conducted February 10-12 and released Wednesday, finds 44 percent of voters identifying as pro-life, while 46 percent are pro-choice.  That is similar to July 2018:  42 percent pro-life vs. 45 percent pro-choice.

Democrats (72 percent), women (52 percent), and voters under age 45 (53 percent) are nearly equally as likely to be pro-choice as Republicans (71 percent), men (49 percent), and those over 45 (51 percent) are to be pro-life.  Independents are split, 42 percent pro-life vs. 43 percent pro-choice.


And when asked about their familiarity with the most famous of abortion cases, Roe v. Wade, just under half (48 percent) say they are “extremely” or “very” familiar with the ruling while the exact same number are “somewhat” or “not at all” familiar.

Moreover, 57 percent of voters say the Supreme Court should let the 46-year old ruling stand; that number jumps to 68 percent among those who are familiar with the case.

Majorities of Democrats (73 percent), voters ages 45 and over (63 percent), women (59 percent), Catholics (59 percent), and men (54 percent) all feel the case should be left alone.  Even pluralities of Republicans (43 percent stand vs. 37 percent overturn) and Protestants (49-29 percent) would let the ruling stand.

On January 22, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Reproductive Health Act, which allows for abortions after 24 weeks if a woman’s health is at risk or if the fetus is not viable.  Additionally, a law introduced in early January by a Democratic lawmaker in Virginia would have also loosened restrictions on late-term abortions, but the bill was set aside.

So how do voters feel about late-term abortions?  Voters take a more nuanced view about late-term abortions than the traditional pro-choice/pro-life divide. One-in-ten (11 percent) think a woman’s right to have an abortion in the third trimester of pregnancy should “always” be legal, while 43 percent say “only in some circumstances,” and 37 percent say “never.”

Majorities of Republicans (58 percent) and white evangelical Christians (61 percent) think late-term abortions should be wholly illegal. Republican women (65 percent) are among the most opposed to third-trimester abortion.

Among women overall, 52 percent are pro-choice and 54 percent say third-trimester abortions should either be legal in all (11 percent) or some circumstances (43 percent).

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cellphone interviews with 1,004 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Beacon Research (D) (formerly named Anderson Robbins Research) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from February 10-12, 2019. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for all registered voters.