- 26% of U.S. adults are satisfied with abortion policies; 69% dissatisfied
- 46% of Americans are dissatisfied and want less strict laws
- 15% of U.S. adults are dissatisfied and want more strict laws
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans are more dissatisfied with U.S. abortion policies now than they have been at any point in Gallup’s 23-year trend, and those who are dissatisfied are three times as likely to prefer less strict rather than more strict abortion laws.
The record-high 69% of U.S. adults dissatisfied with abortion laws includes 46% who prefer that these laws be made less strict, marking a 16-percentage-point jump in this sentiment since January 2022. In addition, 15% of Americans are dissatisfied and favor stricter laws, and 8% are dissatisfied but want them to stay the same. Meanwhile, 26% of Americans are satisfied with the nation’s abortion policies, similar to last year’s 24% record low.
Between 2001 and 2021, the percentage of Americans dissatisfied with U.S. abortion policies ranged from 43% (in 2002 and 2008) to 58% (in 2020). During this time, those who expressed dissatisfaction were significantly more likely to do so because they typically didn’t think the laws were strict enough rather than too strict.
Dissatisfaction with abortion laws increased in 2022, even as it switched to being driven more by a desire for the laws to be less strict. This shift likely reflects two events in late 2021 -- when the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a restrictive Texas abortion law to stand and when the conservative-leaning high court heard oral arguments in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case challenging the constitutionality of abortion.
The latest data, from a Jan. 2-22, 2023, Gallup poll, reflect the public’s reaction to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in June that overturned Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to abortion and subsequent changes to abortion laws in a number of states.
Democrats’ Dissatisfaction and Desire for Less Strict Laws Up Sharply
For much of the period between 2001 and 2021, Democrats were more likely than Republicans to express satisfaction with abortion laws. However, in January 2022, dissatisfaction and a preference for less strict abortion laws increased by 15 points among Democrats to 43%, 14 points among independents to 31% and 12 points among Republicans to 14%.
Record percentages in all party groups are now dissatisfied and call for less strict abortion laws, but the 74% of Democrats with these attitudes is up the most -- 31 points in one year. The same response rose 13 points among independents to 44%, and it was statistically unchanged and far lower, at 17%, among Republicans.
Republicans are currently three times as likely as Democrats to express satisfaction with the nation’s abortion policies, 39% versus 13%.
Half of Women Now Dissatisfied and Want Less Strict Abortion Laws
The percentage of women who are dissatisfied with U.S. abortion policies and support less strict laws has risen 18 points this year to 50%, compared with a 13-point increase among men to 41% over the past year. Both readings are the highest on record for those groups.
Dissatisfied Catholics and Protestants Increasingly Support Less Strict Laws
For the first time in Gallup’s trend, pluralities of Catholic (38%) and Protestant (37%) Americans and a majority of those with no religious identity (69%) express dissatisfaction with abortion policies and a preference for less strict laws.
Last year, the percentages of Catholics and Protestants who were dissatisfied and wanted stricter laws, or less strict laws, were roughly equal. And the largest percentage of Catholics, 28%, were satisfied with abortion laws.
Before 2022, dissatisfied Catholics and Protestants were typically more likely to favor stricter rather than less strict abortion laws.
Abortion policy in the U.S. has changed drastically after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. With individual states now having more leeway in making abortion policy, 12 states have bans in effect, and more have restricted the availability of abortions.
The abortion issue was on the ballot in 2022, including in several states where legislators tried unsuccessfully to change their state constitutions to restrict abortion rights. Even in states where abortion was not on the ballot in 2022, Gallup polling and exit polls suggest that it played a significant role in the election and was at least partially responsible for Republicans’ net loss of one Senate seat and failure to gain as many House seats as they had hoped.
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