Public support for Roe v. Wade declines


ALEXANDRIA, Va.— A national public opinion survey released in late May shows that many people who know the facts about Roe v. Wade— the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion—think it should be overturned.

The survey, commissioned by the Ethics and Public Policy Center and the Judicial Confirmation Network and conducted by Ayres, McHenry & Associates Inc., was completed in early May.

"Public opinion on the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade is significantly affected by a focus on the conditions under which abortion is allowed by the ruling," the survey report stated.

David O'Steen, executive director of the National Right to Life Committee, said the survey confirms what he's known for years.

"If you just ask about Roe v. Wade, there's majority support for it. Using the slogans of modern business, Roe v. Wade is a 'brand' that has been sold to the American people by the media," O'Steen said. "But if you describe what Roe v. Wade does, then a majority doesn't support it."

In response to the survey's first question, "Would you like the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade, or not?"  55 percent said Roe should not be overturned; just 35 percent indicated it should.

Support for Roe varied depending on circumstances. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they supported abortion when the life of the mother is at risk, and 77 percent said it should be legal if the pregnancy poses a health risk or if it resulted from rape or incest. If the preborn child was diagnosed with a "serious physical or mental deformity," abortion support dropped to 55 percent.

Seventy-nine percent said abortion should not be legal if "the woman does not like the gender of the fetus;" 72 percent said it should be illegal if the woman believes the child would interfere with her life; and 65 percent said a lack of financial stability does not make it right.

Respondents were then told that Roe v. Wade allowed abortion in every circumstance presented—and were again asked if it should be overturned. This time, 48 percent said it should not be overturned; 43 percent said it should be.