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Pro-abortion demonstrators march over the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City on May 14, 2022.Michael Nagle / Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

Support for abortion rights hit new high ahead of Supreme Court decision

The NBC News poll conducted in May found 60 % of Americans believed abortion should be legal, the highest recorded in the survey.


The Supreme Court's decision to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling ensuring the right to abortion comes as support for abortion rights hit a new high.

A combined 60% of Americans said abortion should be legal in some form, according to an NBC News poll conducted in May. That's the highest share of Americans backing abortion rights in the NBC News poll since the question was first asked in 2003.

A plurality — 37% — said abortion should always be legal, while 23% said it should be legal most of the time. Nearly one-third said abortion should be illegal with exceptions, while 5% said it should be illegal without any exceptions.

The NBC poll also found that roughly one-in-five registered voters base their support for a candidate solely on his or her position on abortion. That's the largest share of single-issue voters, followed by 12% of voters who said they base their support on solely on a candidate's position on guns.

A majority of Americans — 63% -- did not believe Roe v. Wade should be overturned, while 30% believed it should. 

Support for abortion rights also broke along party lines, with 84% of Democrats saying abortion should be legal compared to just 33% of Republicans, while 63% of independents believed abortion should be legal.

The percentage of Americans who said abortion was the most important issue facing the country also increased in the May survey, compared to NBC News' March poll. In May, 10% of those surveyed said abortion was the most important issue, compared to 3% in March.

The May survey was conducted after a draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked.

The NBC News poll was conducted May 5-7, 9-10 of 1,000 adults — including 750 on their cell phone — and it has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.  The margin of error of for the 790 registered voters surveyed is plus-minus 3.49 percentage points. The poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, a GOP firm, and Hart Research Associates, a Democratic firm.