Poll: Nearly half of Americans say Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade

Nearly half of Americans surveyed in a Harvard CAPS/Harris poll released exclusively to The Hill say the Supreme Court should affirm the constitutional right to abortion established by Roe v. Wade, though slightly more expect the justices to modify the landmark 1973 ruling.

Forty-six percent of respondents said the high court should uphold the ruling in Roe if the issue comes before the justices, while 36 percent said the Supreme Court should modify the 46-year-old ruling. Eighteen percent wanted the ruling to be overturned altogether.

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But 49 percent expected that the Supreme Court would ultimately move to modify its position on abortion rights. Thirty-one percent believe Roe will be upheld, while 20 percent said that the high court will strike it down.

“Almost half of Americans believe the Supreme Court will modify but not repeal Roe vs. Wade while a plurality of Americans, just short of a majority, would like it affirmed,” said Mark PennMark PennPoll: Immigration overtakes health care as top issue for voters Trump approval rating dips to 44 percent: poll Poll: Majority say the census should be able to include citizenship question MORE, co-director of the Harvard CAPS/Harris poll.

The survey comes amid a reignited debate over abortion rights that emerged after several states passed legislation curbing access to the procedure. Among the most restrictive measures was one passed in Alabama that would outlaw abortions at virtually every stage of pregnancy and criminalize performing the procedure for doctors.

That law, which does not provide exceptions for cases of rape and incest, was immediately targeted by lawsuits arguing it directly conflicts with the ruling in Roe. Several Democratic presidential candidates have vowed that, if elected, they will only nominate federal judges who would affirm the 1973 decision.

A plurality of respondents in the Harvard CAPS/Harris poll — 37 percent — said abortion laws are “too restrictive," while 34 percent said existing statutes are “just right.” Twenty-nine percent said the laws are “too liberal.”

The polling results suggest Americans believe there should be some restrictions on when women can seek abortions.

A plurality — 41 percent — said the procedure should be allowed only in cases of rape or incest. Twenty-nine percent said it should be permitted up until the first trimester of pregnancy, while 17 percent said it should be allowed until the second trimester.

Only 8 percent said abortions should be permitted up until the third trimester, and 6 percent said the procedure should be allowed "up until the birth of the child."

The online survey of 1,295 registered voters was conducted from May 29-30.

The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and The Harris Poll. The Hill will be working with Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll throughout 2019.

Full poll results will be posted online later Friday. The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.