Support for legal abortion has reached its highest level in more than 20 years, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, with 60% of Americans saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases, tying the record high level of support from 1995.

The poll comes as states like Alabama, Georgia and Missouri have adopted outright abortion bans that are meant to directly challenge Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that found unduly restrictive state regulation of abortion is unconstitutional.  

The new state-level abortion bans are being challenged in court and some of them may wind up before the Supreme Court, which could put Roe in jeopardy.

If Roe were overturned, it would be done against the will of the majority of Americans. In Virginia, the numbers are even more stark; a February 2019 poll from Public Policy Polling found that 72% of Virginia voters support legal access to abortion. 

Even if Roe isn’t overturned, abortion rights are still a target in the Commonwealth. Over the last decade, Republicans have chipped away at abortion access and as a result 78% of Virginia women now live in counties without an abortion clinic.

Virginia has not passed a similar bill to the ones passed in Alabama or Georgia, but as some Virginia Republicans have said, it’s perhaps only because the Commonwealth has had a Democrat in the governor’s mansion since 2013.

While the Governor will not be on the ballot this November, all 140 seats of Virginia’s General Assembly will be, and abortion is likely to be a key issue on both sides, with Democrats fighting to protect abortion rights and many Republicans, including those in highly competitive races, opposing abortion.

Republican candidates on choice

Despite the views of many Republican candidates in Virginia, only 14% of Americans believe abortion should be completely illegal, while another 22% said it should be illegal in most cases, according to the Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Back in 2013, the same poll found that only 55% of Americans said abortion should be legal in all or most cases. The increase in support for legal abortion (up 5 points to 60%) is due in large part to the surge in support among independent women (up 16 points to 71%) and Democrats (up 12 points to 77%).

And just like in Virginia in 2019, abortion rights are likely to play a key role in the 2020 elections, especially for Democrats. Seventy-one percent of Democratic respondents in the Washington Post-ABC News Poll said abortion is an important issue in their vote for President, compared to only 57% of Republicans. 

A full analysis of the Washington Post-ABC News Poll can be found over at the Washington Post.