The debate over abortion access in this country continues to rage on as more and more states take a stance on the issue. On one side are the handful of states that want to severely limit abortion access. So far, these nine states have introduced early or total abortion bans: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Ohio. On the other side are the states that have introduced legislation to expand abortion access. Six states have recently garnered attention for their efforts: Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
According to PRRI’s landmark 50-state survey of over 40,000 Americans, The State of Abortion and Contraception Attitudes in All 50 States: Findings from the 2018 American Values Atlas support for abortion legality varies significantly by region, with the strongest support found in the Northeast and the weakest support found in the South. It is no coincidence that most of the states with abortion bans are in the South, while most of the states with abortion protections are in the Northeast.
Across the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the largest proportion of residents who say abortion should be illegal in all cases is in Louisiana (23%), with Mississippi (22%), Tennessee (21%), Arkansas (21%), and Nebraska (21%) close behind. One-fifth of Kentucky (20%) and North Dakota (20%) residents agree as well. Five of the nine states (Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky, North Dakota) that have introduced bans additionally have the highest support for the complete illegality of abortion in all cases.
Louisiana has the largest proportion of residents who say that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases (60%), closely followed by Arkansas (54%), Mississippi (52%), Alabama (52%), and Kentucky (51%).
Contrastingly, in some of the states that have introduced abortion bans, there is slightly more support for making abortion legal in all or most cases than illegal. In Georgia, 49% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 44% say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. Similarly, in Missouri, 49% favor abortion legality in all or most cases, while 45% favor illegality. In Ohio, more than half (56%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while only 39% say it should be illegal.
Support for abortion legality in all or most cases is among the highest in five of the six states that have introduced protections since last month (Maine, New York, Nevada, Rhode Island, Vermont). Vermont has the largest proportion of residents who say abortion should be legal in all or most cases (72%); More than one-third of Vermont residents (36%) say abortion should be legal in all cases, closely following the District of Columbia (37%). A majority of residents in Rhode Island (65%), Nevada (64%), New York (61%), and Maine (61%) also say it should be legal in all or most cases. In Illinois, a majority (55%) still say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, but this is notably less support than in the other states that have introduced legislative protections for it.