New York Times/CBS Poll Shows Consistent Support for Legal Abortion Rights

Scott Swenson

Yet another major poll demonstrates high levels of consistent support for safe, legal abortion rights, and an election in which social issues are not driving the agenda. Not surprisingly, it's the economy, proving that most Americans aren't stupid.

A poll conducted September 12-16, by the New York Times and CBS News (PDF), demonstrates once again the strong support for legal abortion rights in the mainstream of American life.  The poll also indicates that very few people will be making their minds up based on social issues, with 48 percent saying the economy is the most important issue. Following far behind the economy is terrorism and national security cited by 14 percent and health care/gas prices and energy both coming in at 10 percent as most important to voters. Only five percent said they would decide based on "something else", not necessarily social issues.

Two questions about abortion were rotated with half of the 1,113 respondents in the sample answering one of the questions.

Question 73: Which of these comes closest to your view? 1. Abortion should be generally available to those who want it; OR 2. Abortion should be available but under stricter limits than it is now; OR 3. Abortion should not be permitted?

  • Available         37%
  • Stricter Limits  42%
  • Not Permitted  19%
  • DK/NA              2%

 

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Question 74: What is your personal feeling about abortion: 1. It should be permitted in all cases; OR 2. It should be permitted, but subject to greater restrictions than it is now; OR 3. It should be permitted only in cases such as rape, incest and to save the woman’s life; OR 4. It should ONLY be permitted to save the woman’s life?

  • Permitted in all cases                               31%
  • Permitted with greater restrictions              19%
  • Permitted for rape/incest/save life              28%
  • Only permitted to save the woman’s life      15%
  • Not permitted at all                                  4%
  • DK/NA                                                    3% 


These are questions consistenly asked over many years in this poll and these numbers have remained steady, if anything they have shown a slight increase in support for the right to safe, legal abortion.

Far-right social conservatives seek to overturn Roe v. Wade which would ban abortion automatically in 23 states and set the stage for Congress to pass a legislative ban at the federal level in all 50 states.  It seems hard to imagine this could happen given the consistent high level of polling support by Americans, but it only takes a couple more Supreme Court Justices who will then demonstrate right wing judicial activism by undoing 35 years of settled law represented by Roe.

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