A poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal this week gives us surprising numbers about the strong support for abortion rights in America. In fact, support for the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which provided the basis for legalizing abortion, is at an all time high.
According to the poll, a full 71 percent of American voters believe the decision should not be overturned. Only 23 percent support reversing the decision.
Even across party lines, support for Roe is strong. It’s unsurprising that 88 percent of Democrats do not want the decision overturned, but even a majority—52 percent—of Republicans agree. Among independents, the number is a high 76 percent. Only 39 percent of Republicans believe Roe should be overturned.
This is extremely encouraging news for people concerned about the future of reproductive rights under the Trump administration and beyond. Yet it’s also confusing, given that Republican politicians still largely run on anti-abortion platforms. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is most likely to be the one who decides Roe’s fate, and though he’s been cagey about it in interviews, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest he would overturn it.
The disregard for voter opinions is a perfect example of the anti-democratic tactics that Republicans have used for decades now. A recent article from the Daily Beast describes how the Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo has spend the last twenty years court packing across the country with conservative—and largely anti-choice—judges.
“Leonard Leo was a visionary,” said Tom Carter, who served as Leo’s media relations director when he was chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), in an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast. “He figured out twenty years ago that conservatives had lost the culture war. Abortion, gay rights, contraception—conservatives didn’t have a chance if public opinion prevailed. So they needed to stack the courts.”
There you have it. Republicans don’t care what percentage of the public supports abortion rights. They already have the infrastructure they need to carry out the program they want across the country, whether the public likes it or not.