Poll: One-Quarter of Americans Falsely Believe Overturning Roe Would Make Abortion Illegal Nationwide 

A crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court, early Tuesday, May 3, 2022 in Washington. A draft opinion circulated among Supreme Court justices suggests that earlier this year a majority of them had thrown support behind overturning the 1973 case Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide, according to …
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

One quarter of Americans falsely believe that overturning Roe v. Wade would make abortion illegal nationwide, but the vast majority realize that doing so would kick the decision back to the states, a University of Massachusetts Amherst survey released Thursday found. 

The survey asked, “How would a decision to overturn Roe v. Wade affect abortion laws?” It provided two options: “Make it so individual states can establish laws banning abortion” and “make it so that abortion is illegal in all of the United States” — the latter being a common misconception. 

Most Americans, 74 percent, realize that overturning Roe would simply kick the decision back to the states, but over a quarter, 26 percent, believe it would make abortion illegal across the U.S.

According to the survey, independents are the most likely to believe that overturning the decision would make abortion completely illegal — 31 percent. Twenty-seven percent of Democrats and 20 percent of Republicans say the same. However, most across the board — 80 percent of Republicans, 69 percent of independents, and 73 percent of Democrats — know that overturning the 1973 decision would allow  abortion laws to instead be placed in the hands of each individual state:

The survey, taken May 5-9, 2020, among 1,000 respondents, has a +/- 3.5 percent margin of error and follows the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe.

“It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” the draft opinion, reportedly penned by Justice Samuel Alito, reads.

The leak is widely suspected as acting as an intimidation tactic against the justices, as activists have since protested in the streets, including outside of some of the justices’ private homes. 

Justice Clarence Thomas made it clear this week, however, that the institution cannot “be bullied into giving you the outcomes you want.” 

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