The 49th annual March for Life, which is held each year on the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling, which effectively legalized abortion nationwide, comes as the landmark ruling is facing its strongest threat in years. The high court justices are expected to rule later this year on a Mississippi case centered on overturning the legality of abortion.
At issue – whether the conservative state’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy is constitutional. And as part of the case, Mississippi officials are urging the conservative-dominated court to abolish Roe v. Wade.
While many Americans have nuanced attitudes on the divisive issue and don’t feel abortion should be legal in all circumstances, most polling suggests that a majority do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned.
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of those questioned in a Fox News national poll conducted in September said they wanted to see the high court ruling stand, with 28% saying that it should be overturned.
For the first time in Fox News polling, over half of Republicans (53%) joined majorities of Democrats (77%) and independents (64%) in saying Roe should remain the law of the land. Seven in 10 White Catholics (72%) and about half of White evangelical Christians (49%) also said the decision should stand.
The Fox News poll indicated that Americans remained divided on the legality of abortion. Twenty-nine percent said abortion should be legal in all cases, with 20% saying it should be legal in most cases. Thirty-eight percent said that abortion should only be legal in some cases such as rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother, and 11% said it should never be legal.
There was an expected partisan divide, with seven in 10 Democrats supporting abortion rights in all (46%) or most (24%) situations, while seven in 10 Republicans saying abortion should never be legal (19%) or only legal in some cases (53%).
“Setting the politics aside, what’s interesting to me is that despite the ethical and religious implications of the issue for many, opinions on abortion tend to be quite nuanced,” Republican pollster Daron Shaw noted.
Shaw, who conducts the Fox News poll with Democratic pollster Chris Anderson, emphasized that “while 40 percent say abortion should always be permitted or never be permitted, about 60 percent prefer some sort of ‘middle-ground’ between the rights of the mother and the rights of the unborn. The question is where to draw that line.”
Gallup has been polling on abortion for decades. Their most recent numbers, from last year, indicated that 32% of Americans felt abortion should be legal in all circumstances, with nearly half (48%) saying it should be legal in certain circumstances, and 19% saying abortion should never be legal.
Fox News’ Victoria Balara contributed to this report