Resources for Reporters

Key Facts and Polling on Abortion and Reproductive Freedom

Through the words, phrases, and hyperpartisan framing of abortion in news coverage, American public opinion on abortion appears deeply divided. In reality, support for Roe v. Wade and abortion access is consistently supported by a majority of Americans — a fact we found was included in just 9% of articles on the landmark ruling. 


To help ground the conversation around reproductive freedom in facts and data, some helpful polling and research to reference includes:

Support for Reproductive Freedom & Roe v. Wade are the highest they have been in decades: 

  • 7 in 10 Americans support reproductive freedom.   
  • 77% of Americans support the legal right to abortion and do not want to see Roe  overturned (Marist/PBS/NPR, June 7, 2019). An overwhelming minority (14% of registered voters and 4% of registered Democrats) support overturning Roe.
  • Fewer than one quarter of Republicans (22%) believe abortion should be illegal in all cases (Washington Post/ABC News, July 10, 2019).
  • 87% of Democrats think the Supreme Court should keep Roe “as is.” (CBS, May 21, 2019)
  • 79% of Americans think women should make decisions about pregnancy with their doctors, including 94% of Democrats, 79% of Independents, and 59% of Republicans (Kaiser Family Foundation, Jan. 22, 2020). 


Reproductive Freedom as a Vote Driver

  • Over 6 in 10 Americans say abortion is “one of the single most important issues” or a “very important issue” in determining their vote in 2020 (Washington Post/ABC News, July 10, 2019)
  • 51% of Independents are more likely to vote for a candidate that supports abortion, compared to 24% who would be more likely to vote for a candidate opposed to abortion (SuperMajority/PerryUndem, August 22, 2019).
  • 78% of suburban women in key Congressional districts believe politicians shouldn’t prevent a woman from having an abortion if she chooses.
  • 54% of registered voters and 56% of suburban women said they would definitely not vote for a presidential candidate who would appoint Supreme Court judges to limit or overturn Roe v. Wade (Marist/PBS/NPR, June 7, 2019).


Key Facts about Abortion 

  • Nearly 1 in 4 women will have an abortion by the age of 45. (Guttmacher Institute)
  • 65.5% of abortions are performed at the eighth week or earlier and more than 91% were performed at or before 13 weeks. About 7.7% are performed between 14 and 20 weeks and the remaining 1.2% are performed at or above 21 weeks. (Source: Center for Disease Control, 11/23/18)
  • Anti-choice restrictions disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities. These restrictions and bans create additional barriers to care for those already facing enormous hurdles to access.
  • Research shows that women are about 14 times more likely to die during or after giving birth to a live baby than to die from complications of an abortion (Reuters).


Key Facts about Abortion Safety 

  • Between 1973 and 1997, the mortality rate associated with legal abortion procedures declined from 4.1 to 0.6 per 100,000 abortions (8 Phillip G. Stubblefield & David A. Grimes, Septic Abortion, 331 NEW ENG. J. MED. 310 (1994).
  • The American Medical Association’s Council on Scientific Affairs credits the shift from illegal to legal abortion services as an important factor in the decline of the abortion-related death rate after Roe v. Wade. (Council on Scientific Affairs, American Medical Association, Induced Termination of Pregnancy Before and After Roe v Wade: Trends in the Mortality and Morbidity of Women, 268 JAMA 3231, 3232 (1992).
  • Studies of abortion services worldwide found that abortion-related deaths are rare in countries where the procedure is legal, accessible, and performed early in pregnancy by skilled providers. (Guttmacher Institute, Sharing Responsibility: Women, Society & Abortion Worldwide, at 32 (1999). These findings were further supported in a 2007 Lancet article. Gilda Sedgh, Stanley Henshaw, et. al., Induced abortion: estimated rates and trends worldwide, The Lancet, Volume 370, Issue 9595, Pages 1338 – 1345, Oct. 13, 2007.)
  • In 2000, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug mifepristone (originally known as RU 486) to end a very early pregnancy. Mifepristone is extremely safe. Side effects are similar to the complications of a natural miscarriage, and in the unusual case that the abortion is incomplete, the very safe and common procedure of a surgical abortion is recommended. (16 Population Council, Mifeprex® (Mifepristone) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs))

For more information about abortion safety and dispelling myths around abortion click here.

Glossary of Terms

Join us in calling for media to #TellTheWholeStory!

Learn more, take action, and sign-up for updates.