Earlier this month, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a pro-choice Republican, told the New York Times that Americans are roughly divided equally on the issue of reproductive rights. The Maine senator said it’s “something like a 51-49” issue.
Two weeks later, during Donald Trump’s trip to the U.K., someone asked the president whether he can understand why American women are concerned about the future of the Roe v. Wade precedent, given Republican efforts to push the Supreme Court further to the right. “I do understand,” Trump said, “but I also understand that you know, that’s a 50/50 question in this country.”
Collins and Trump were both very wrong about public attitudes on the subject.
As President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick readies for his eventual confirmation hearing, support for the court’s landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade has hit an all-time high.
A new poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal finds that 71 percent of American voters believe that the decision, which established a woman’s legal right to an abortion, should not be overturned. Just 23 percent say the ruling should be reversed.
That’s the highest level of support for the decision – and the lowest share of voters who want Roe v. Wade overturned – in the poll’s history dating back to 2005.
This isn’t an outlier. On the contrary, these results are roughly in line with recent surveys from the Kaiser Family Foundation and Quinnipiac, both of which found strong public support for the Roe precedent.
What’s more, this isn’t, strictly speaking, a partisan issue. The NBC/WSJ poll found that a majority of Republican voters – 52 percent – also believe the Supreme Court decision on abortion rights should not be overturned.
That fact that Republicans like Trump and Collins are wrong about Americans’ attitudes matters. They’re apparently of the opinion that they can move the Supreme Court further to the right, watch the Republican-appointed justices overturn Roe, and satisfy the wishes of the half the country. After all, as the president put it, this is “a 50/50 question” in the United States.
Except it’s not. More than two-thirds of Americans want to leave the status quo in place, and they won’t be pleased if Donald Trump’s justices – confirmed with Susan Collins’ help – dramatically changes the legal landscape on reproductive rights.