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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Most voters in North Carolina said they think the U.S. Supreme Court should uphold the right to an abortion and that the issue makes them more likely to vote in November.
Nearly half the respondents (46%) to a WJZY/The Hill/Emerson College Poll said that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that allows women to have access to legal abortions, should not be overturned.
There were 36% who said the court should overturn that law, and 18% said they were unsure or had no opinion.
But nearly 9 in 10, when asked about their views on access to abortion, said they believed that there should be access, with most choosing to have some restrictions over a total ban should the court change its position.
Politico last week reported the leak of a draft opinion written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito, circulated among the nine justices in February, that advocated overturning Roe v. Wade and the later ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that had upheld the law.
Alito’s opinion had the support of Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, but Chief Justice John Roberts – who confirmed the draft opinion was authentic – did not support the opinion.
The presence of the opinion, which was drafted in an abortion rights case from Mississippi, does not mean that the law would be overturned. An opinion likely would not be published until late in June or July, and it could be different than Alito’s words. Democrats in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday failed in an effort to have abortion rights under Roe become federal law.
A political issue
But the potential downfall of the law has become a significant issue in the midterm elections, and 51% of respondents to the poll said it makes them more likely to vote, and only 6% said it makes them less likely. The remaining 43% said the ruling would make no difference.
Among those voters, slightly more women (47.5%) than men (44.5%) support upholding Roe v. Wade, but more men think the law should be overturned (37.7% to 33.6%).
The poll found that among those who said a court ruling would make them more likely to vote, 53% said they would support presumptive Democratic nominee Cheri Beasley in a U.S. Senate race against Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance), who has taken a commanding lead in polling on the GOP nomination. The poll found that among undecided voters in a Beasley-Budd matchup, 40% think Roe v. Wade should be upheld, 36% say it should be overturned, and 35% are unsure.
What should North Carolina do?
Alito’s opinion would return the decision about abortion rights to state legislatures, and several of those controlled by Republicans already have made access more limited, some with automatic triggers to a full ban on abortion if the court were to repeal Roe.
Some expect the North Carolina General Assembly to take up restrictions if Republicans can get a supermajority in the House and Senate this fall or win the governor’s mansion in 2024.
But voters who responded in the poll were split on whether they think lawmakers should act. A bare plurality, 38%, said lawmakers should make it easier to access abortion, but 36% said they should make it more difficult. And nearly 3 in 10 (27%) said the legislature shouldn’t even get involved.
Respondents were asked a series of questions about their views on possible restrictions on abortion, similar to those adopted in other states, and nearly 9 in 10 said abortion should be available in at least some cases, with 28% saying it should be available in all cases.
The majority of respondents, though, were split on various restrictions, with 32% saying there should be access only for certain cases – such as rape or incest – 19% saying abortion should be legal up to 20 weeks of pregnancy and 8% saying it should be legal up to 6 weeks of pregnancy.
Only 13% said abortion should be illegal in all cases.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted last week found that 54% of Americans think Roe v. Wade should be upheld, and 28% believe it should be overturned. That poll also found that 57% oppose their state making abortions legal only in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy, and 58% oppose limiting abortion to the first six weeks of pregnancy.
Emerson College conducted the poll Saturday through Monday among 1,000 registered voters by telephone and online surveys, and the responses were weighted by various demographics based on 2022 turnout modeling. The poll has a Credibility Interval – which is similar to a margin of error – of +/- 4.5 percentage points.
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