At some point in the foreseeable future, the American anti-abortion movement is going to founder on the rocks of public opinion. Unless the nation’s democratic institutions simply cease to function — and admittedly, that’s probably not beyond the realm of possibility in a country in which a sizable minority has fallen for the lies of a serial grifter and would-be autocrat — the law will eventually reflect what most people believe about this most private of personal healthcare matters.
And what they believe, by consistently large margins, is that laws that restrict the right of the pregnant person to decide for themselves about whether to seek abortion care are wrong.
This fact was on display in 2022 when voters in several states — including deeply “red” states like Kansas and Kentucky — rejected efforts to remove this right. And it was demonstrated once again this week in North Carolina in the latest Meredith College Poll results.
According to the Meredith findings, 57.1% of North Carolinians support preserving the abortion rights North Carolinians currently enjoy or expanding them. Only 34.7% support greatly restricting or banning abortion rights. Just over 8% expressed no opinion.
These findings comport with results seen in numerous other U.S. polls and referenda votes. Last May, for instance, a Pew Research Center survey found that 61% of U.S. adults said abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Similarly, nearly 60% of Kansans voted against a ballot initiative last summer that would have allowed legislators to restrict abortion rights.
Of course, the sad reality is that North Carolina is not a state that provides for citizen-instigated ballot initiatives. If it were, one can easily imagine any number of popular policy choices long frustrated by the gerrymandered, Republican dominated General Assembly — abortion rights, gun safety rules, Medicaid expansion, a higher minimum wage, higher taxes on the rich, just to name a few — that would have long ago found their way into state law.
As the news from the Legislative Building continues to make clear, however, for the time being, conservative lawmakers will continue to do the bidding of the loud minority that makes up their political base. And the challenge for the majority will continue to lie in mustering the energy, creativity, and long-run commitment necessary to ride out the current difficult era and, ultimately, make our democracy work as it is designed to work.