40 years after Roe V. Wade, majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal

Updated
File photo: Pro-choice activists hold placards during a rally outside of the Supreme Court on January 23, 2012 in Washington, DC.
File photo: Pro-choice activists hold placards during a rally outside of the Supreme Court on January 23, 2012 in Washington, DC.
Mandel Ngan/AFP Photo

Forty years after the Supreme Court established a woman’s constitutional right to abortion in Roe V. Wade, a new poll shows unprecedented support for choice.

A new NBC- Wall Street Journal poll found 7 in 10 Americans believe Roe V. Wade should not be overturned.  That’s the highest level of support for the decision since polls began tracking it in 1989.  Moreover, for the first time, a majority of those polled – 54% – believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Pro-choice supporters credit some of the changing views on abortion to last year’s controversial Senate races in Missouri and Indiana where Republican candidates lost races after making national news for their widely criticized comments on abortion rights for impregnated rape victims.

“This last election in 2012, shows the country has moved to understand that reproductive choices and reproductive decision making is the purview of women,” former National Abortion Rights Action League president Kate Michelman said on Jansing & Co.

Even as the country’s attitudes continue to shift in favor of a woman’s right to choose,  anti-abortion campaigners are feeling optimistic at the state level.  Nationwide, Republican-dominated state legislatures have passed more than 130 bills intended to reduce access to abortion over the past two years.  The laws include mandatory counseling and ultrasound for women seeking abortions, bans on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and new regulations for abortion clinics.

“Overturning Roe is not something they can do so they are passing legislation in as many states as possible to make it more difficult, more humiliating, more expensive for women who need to terminate their pregnancies to be able to do so,” said Michelman to Chris Jansing.

Michelman warns the battle over reproductive rights is still raging.

“This past year in 2012, there was an assault  on women’s access to reproductive healthcare, ” Michelman said.  ”I think that should raise question as to what their real motives are… I don’t think this is about abortion or contraception.  It’s a means to control women’s lives.”

40 years after Roe V. Wade, majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal

Updated