Harvard Poll: 72 Percent Oppose Abortion Beyond 15-Week

I previously wrote about how most Americans are not aligned by the most extreme views of both parties on abortion. Many Democratic leaders have been speaking of absolute abortion rights, as reflected in states like Colorado which recognize the right to abortion until the moment of birth at nine months. Many Republican leaders have been speaking of absolute or near absolute bans on abortion, as reflected in states like Arkansas with only limited exceptions for the life of the mother. Now a Harvard poll reaffirms earlier polling that shows most Americans embrace views closer to Mississippi than Michigan on abortion. Indeed, while Democratic leaders denounced the Mississippi law setting a 15-week limit on abortion, 72 percent of those polled opposed abortion generally after that limit.

A poll conducted after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade found that 72 percent of Americans would allow abortion only until the 15th week of pregnancy or a more restrictive law. That transcends party affiliation. Even 60 percent of Democrats believe abortion should be prohibited after the 15th week or a more restrictive law.

That is also consistent with most other countries. Internationally, only seven countries allow abortion after the 20th week.

Notably, 75 percent of women support the 15-week cut-off or a more restrictive law while 69 percent of men also agree with that timeline.

The poll also shows that 44 percent of voters believe that state legislatures should have the power to determine abortion standards while 25 percent believe Supreme Court justices should decide the issue. Another 31 percent believe that Congress should pass national abortion laws.

This and other polling shows that, while most Americans support a federal right to abortion, they do not support the more liberal position of abortion rights extending beyond 15 weeks. In other words, they hold a position closer to where the concurrence of Chief Justice John Roberts would have left the matter: to uphold Mississippi’s law while preserving Roe v. Wade. That is significantly at odds with the position of the dissenting justices and most of the Democratic leaders, including candidates like Tim Ryan in Ohio in close races.  That may suggest that there is a more nuanced position of voters going into the upcoming midterm elections.

Indeed, the poll may reflect even greater opposition to the sweeping abortion language of Democratic leaders and many pundits. The poll does not show that level of support for the 15-week limit as opposed to a shorter period or more restrictive laws. Indeed, many appear to oppose such an allowance:

 “Do you think your state should allow abortion…?”

Up to 9 months: 10%
Up to 23 weeks: 18%
Up to 15 weeks: 23%
Up to six weeks: 12%
Only in cases of rape and incest: 37%

Those saying that they would allow abortion up to six weeks clearly do not support abortion up to 15 weeks. Likewise, those who would allow abortion only in cases of rape and incest are not endorsing a period of allowable abortion (without such justification) up to 15 weeks. (Conversely, those who would allow abortion for rape or incest may or may not support such a right beyond the 15th week).

The point remains the same. While the media has been overwhelmingly portraying voters as pro-abortion based on the question of whether they would overturn Roe v. Wade, the specific question reflects far greater opposition to abortion, particularly beyond the 15th week.

What is clear is that only 28 percent support abortion for either the full months (10 percent) or up to 23 weeks (18 percent). That is notable because is suggests that Democratic leaders (and states like Colorado) pushing absolute definitions of abortion actually have a small percentage of support for such position.

NB: This blog was edited to reflect more accurately the poll results.

204 thoughts on “Harvard Poll: 72 Percent Oppose Abortion Beyond 15-Week”

  1. “By describing the decision in the Dobbs case as “an exercise in raw political power” rather than simply stating that he disagrees with the majority’s constitutional interpretation, President Joe Biden is undermining the Supreme Court, as he has done his entire career.” @joelpollak

    1. The Justices themselves have undermined respect for the Court.

      Mitch McConnell playing political games with whether to hold hearings undermined respect for the Court.

      1. Every time you make a stupid comment like this someone has to remind you of history and that there was a Democrat who started the ball rolling.

        Are you that ignorant that you never heard of Harry Reid?

  2. Democrats have taken advantage of the ignorance of the average American in order to misrepresent the situation.

    The case that led to the Supreme Court acknowledging that there is no right to abortion in the Constitution was in regards to restricting abortion after 15 weeks. Polls have long showed that most Americans favor that ban. But Roe v Wade interfered with that ban. Yet, most Americans polled supported Roe v Wade.

    So what does all this mean?

    It means that many Americans thought the overturning of Roe v Wade meant that all abortions would be illegal in all 50 states.
    Most Americans did not understand that the case which caused this overturn was about restricting abortions after 15 weeks, when the mother is heavy with child.
    Most Americans did not understand that they supported the ban which Roe v Wade interfered with.
    Most Americans don’t know that the overturning of Roe v Wade means the states can decide abortion laws.
    Most Americans don’t understand how much overlap their really is between the Pro Choice and Pro Life camps. Even Joy Behar said, on camera, that aborting a viable baby is “murder”.
    Most Americans don’t understand that a third trimester abortion on a VIABLE baby does not save the mother’s life. It takes 2 days, carries more risk than regular labor and delivery, still requires labor, and delivers a stillborn who was killed en utero. The purpose of a third trimester abortion on a VIABLE fetus is to kill the unwanted child. End stop. It is faster and safer to perform a C-Section or emergency delivery, as long as the baby is viable. Most voters are only comfortable approving abortion on viable fetuses if the life of the mother is at risk. This disconnect in information needs to be resolved in legislation. Women either abort their third trimester babies due to fetal abnormality, or because they simply do not want their viable infant, for a variety of reasons, one of which include fetal abnormality that is still compatible with life. Voters and legislators need to have CALM, reasoned discussions on these difficult medical ethics and eugenics issues in order to hash out fair legislation.

    I have never seen more upset in a population so fiercely upset at the idea of governing themselves through the legislative process.

    1. Many states are passing anti-abortion laws that the majority of their populations disagree with.

      1. Anonymous:

        In a Republic, there are usually consequences for passing unpopular laws or policies. However, in politics, you never know. Out here in CA, voters keep putting in Democrats, even though they keep passing wildly unpopular laws and taxes, such as the gas tax, making jail a revolving door, etc.

        That’s part of the responsibility of governing yourself through a Republic. If you don’t like how your representatives legislate, then demand change. All politicians of all political parties should have a healthy respect for the people they represent, rather than just take them for granted.

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