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Do 70% of Americans support Roe v. Wade?

Pro-choice advocates argue more than two-thirds of Americans do not want the landmark Supreme Court decision overturned. Is that an accurate estimate?

WASHINGTON — All across the country people are protesting in the streets and condemning the potential reversal of Roe v. Wade on social media. 

The outrage began after POLITICO published a leaked copy of a Supreme Court majority opinion draft to overturn Roe v. Wade.

SCOTUS confirmed that the leaked draft is legitimate, but that "it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case."

Meanwhile, the national conversation has focused on whether or not Americans want Roe v. Wade to be up for debate.

RELATED: Supreme Court Chief Justice confirms draft abortion opinion is authentic

Some people are sharing a statistic claiming about 70% of Americans support the decision, and 30% want it overturned.

THE QUESTION:

Do 70% of Americans support the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, and 30% support overturning it?

THE SOURCES:

THE ANSWER:

It depends on which poll you read.

WHAT WE FOUND:

We looked at polls from Gallup, Pew Research, ABC-The Washington Post, Rasmussen, YouGov and Monmouth University. 

Here's what we found:

  • a Gallup poll found that 58% of people say the Supreme Court should "not overturn" Roe v. Wade, and 32% support overturning it (June 2021)
  • a Pew Research poll found that 70% did not want the decision overturned, and 28% did (August 2021)
  • an ABC-The Washington Post poll found that 54% said the court should "uphold" the decision, 28% said they should "overturn" it and 18% indicated they had "no opinion" (April 2022)
  • a Rasmussen poll found that 45% of likely voters "disapprove of overturning" the decision and 48% "approve" (May 2022)
  • an Economist-YouGov poll found that 45% of Americans "would not like to see Roe v. Wade overturned," while 32% "would like to see" it and 23% said they were "not sure" (May 2022)
  • a Monmouth University poll found 62% wanted the court to "leave" it "as is," 31% said the court should "revisit" it and 7% said "don't know" (September 2021)

Of the polls we looked at, Pew Research was the only one that found that 70% of people supported the decision. Others peg the number between 45-62%.

RELATED: No, Justices Barrett, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh didn’t say they wouldn’t overturn Roe v. Wade during confirmation hearings

We asked political science and poll experts, Samara Klar, from the University of Arizona, and Marzia Oceno from Vanderbilt University, why poll results can differ. One thing they said to consider, is how the question is phrased.

"If you ask people, do you support Roe versus Wade? Versus, do you think the government should be involved in a woman's decision regarding her body? You're gonna get very different answers to that question," Klar said.

Oceno explained word choices that are perceived as positive or negative, can also sway results.

"For example, 'do you support Roe v. Wade?' Versus, 'do you support overturning Roe v. Wade?'...that usually is a different kind of question," Oceno said.

Polls that include not just a ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ but a third option of ‘don’t know’ could also impact results, Oceno explained.

“There's a part of sort of respondents that will choose the ‘don't know’ option, even if it's not really accurate," Oceno said. "Like they actually have an opinion— maybe even particularly strong or moderate about the topic—but if they are offered the option of not engaging, that's cognitively easier.”

Even if two polls are phrased the same and have the same number of options, you could still see discrepancies between the two: things like how people were contacted, what preconceived notions people have about the group organizing the poll, cues people get from political leaders they support, and even cues people get from the person surveying them. 

Oceno said people at home can look at who was sampled in the poll, and see if it’s representative of society to help figure out if a poll is accurate.

So we can Verify that in all but one of the polls we looked at, the majority of Americans do not support overturning the landmark decision. However, it's not always 70/30.

RELATED: No, Justices Barrett, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh didn’t say they wouldn’t overturn Roe v. Wade during confirmation hearings