In the years since the historic Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal in the United States, pro-life and pro-choice forces have organized, demonstrated, and participated in electoral politics—both sides claiming that the general public supports their position. Now it appears likely that Roe will be overturned or limited by the Supreme Court. If abortion politics is returned to national and state legislators, a clear reading of public opinion on abortion will become even more important. Using extensive analysis of survey data, Cook, Jelen, and Wilcox show that the American public values both individual freedom and fetal life, and that a majority of Americans favors keeping abortion legal in some but not all circumstances. Although most Americans are wary of allowing the government to ban abortion, they are also supportive of restrictions that would make abortions more difficult to obtain. The authors show important differences in the attitudes of Americans based on age, education, religion, and race, and explain who supports and opposes legal abortion and why. The authors also illustrate the increasingly important role abortion plays in national and state elections, arguing that voters will become even more focused on abortion as an issue if Roe is overturned.
Table of Contents
Preface -- Abortion and American Politics -- The Social Bases of Abortion Attitudes -- The Subjective Bases of Abortion Attitudes -- Religion and Abortion Attitudes -- Who Is Pro-Life, Pro-Choice, and In Between? -- The Electoral Politics of Abortion -- From Rights to Policy: The Future of the Abortion Debate -- Appendix: Detailed Results of Multivariate Analyses