Abortion access gains support: More Americans opposing federal ban, poll shows

A recent poll shows that a solid majority of Americans oppose a federal abortion ban as support to abortion access for any reason has increased. 

Around 6 in 10 Americans think their state should generally allow a person to obtain a legal abortion if they don't want to be pregnant for any reason, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. 

That number is up from June 2021, a year before the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to the procedure, when about half of Americans thought legal abortion should be possible under these circumstances.

Americans are largely opposed to the strict bans that have taken effect in Republican-controlled states since the high court’s ruling two years ago. Full bans, with limited exceptions, have gone into effect in 14 GOP-led states, while three other states prohibit abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, before women often realize they’re pregnant.

RELATED: Republicans' RNC platform does not include national abortion ban

They are also overwhelmingly against national abortion bans and restrictions. And views toward abortion — which have long been relatively stable — may be getting more permissive.

Likely Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has declined to endorse a nationwide abortion ban, saying the issue should be left up to the states. But even that stance is likely to be unsatisfying to most Americans, who continue to oppose many bans on abortion within their own state, and think Congress should pass a law guaranteeing access to abortions nationwide, according to the poll.

Seven in 10 Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, a slight increase from last year, while about 3 in 10 think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

RELATED: 'Right to IVF Act' blocked by Senate Republicans in latest battle

Views on abortion have long been nuanced and sometimes contradictory. The new AP-NORC survey shows that even though the country is largely antagonistic to restrictions on abortion, a substantial number of people hold opinions and values that are not internally consistent.

About half of those who say a woman should be able to get an abortion for any reason also say their state should not allow abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy and about one-quarter say their state should not allow abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

But the vast majority of Americans — more than 8 in 10 — continue to say abortion should be legal in extreme circumstances, such as when a patient's life would be endangered by continuing the pregnancy. About 8 in 10 say the same about a pregnancy caused by rape or incest or when a fetal anomaly would prevent the child from surviving outside the womb.

RELATED: Abortion pill case: Supreme Court rejects limits to mifepristone access

National bans on abortion are broadly unpopular: Around 8 in 10 Americans say Congress should not pass a federal law banning abortion. About three-quarters say there should not be a federal law banning abortion at six weeks, and 6 in 10 oppose a federal law banning abortion at 15 weeks.

Most Republicans — about two-thirds, according to the survey — say a nationwide abortion ban should not happen.

On the campaign trail, Trump has courted anti-abortion voters by highlighting his appointment of three Supreme Court justices who helped overturn Roe. But his strategy on abortion policy has been to defer to the states, an attempt to find a more cautious stance on an issue that has become a major vulnerability for Republicans since the 2022 Dobbs decision.

Despite Trump's statements, Penny Johnson, 73, from Sherman Oaks, California, said she is still afraid Republicans might pursue a national abortion ban if they win the White House and Congress in November.

The poll of 1,088 adults was conducted June 20-24, 2024, using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.