Majority of Utahns oppose overturning Roe v. Wade

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Abortion and reproductive rights is a newly ignited flashpoint during the Trump presidency. President Donald Trump has already appointed two conservative justices to the Supreme Court, and the fate of Roe v. Wade seemingly hinges on the health of 86-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. If Trump gets to pick her replacement, pro-choice groups fear the 1973 landmark decision could be overturned.

A slim majority of Utahns favor keeping Roe v. Wade in place according to our new Utah Political Trends poll conducted in partnership with Y2 Analytics.

The survey finds:

  • 35% of Utahns want to keep Roe v. Wade in place as is.
  • 11% say they would like to keep Roe v. Wade, but reduce other restrictions on access to abortion currently being used by other states.
  • 12% would like Roe vs. Wade expanded, giving a right to abortion under any circumstances.
  • 21% of Utahns would like to see Roe vs. Wade overturned
  • Another 21% want Roe v. Wade overturned while adding other restrictions to abortion access.

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In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled the U.S. Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s right to have an abortion without excessive restrictions by the government. The ruling struck down many state laws prohibiting abortion. States cannot ban abortions before a fetus can live outside the womb, but states do have the ability to ban abortions after the point of viability so long as they include exceptions in the case a mother’s health or life is threatened.

Several states have passed restrictive abortion laws in an attempt to get the issue before the Supreme Court and possibly overturning Roe v. Wade. Most recently, Missouri’s ban on abortions after 8 weeks was blocked by a federal judge.

Utah lawmakers have taken a more incremental approach in restricting access to abortion. This year legislators passed a law banning abortion after 18 weeks. That law was immediately challenged in court by Planned Parenthood and blocked by a federal judge. In the past, Utah approved a ban on abortion when the fetus was diagnosed with Down syndrome.

That will likely change during the 2020 session as Sen. Dan McCay has promised to introduce legislation in January’s legislative session that would ban nearly all abortions in Utah.

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As you might guess, there’s a significant partisan divide over access to abortion, with Republicans favoring overturning Roe v. Wade while independent voters and Democrats favor keeping the decision in place.

87% of “strong” Republicans want Roe overturned, along with 65% of independent voters who lean Republican. Moderate Republicans are evenly divided on the issue.

That could prove to be an important factor in next year’s race for the GOP nomination for governor. Current Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox made abortion a talking point when he spoke at several Republican county conventions over the summer.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints takes a more pragmatic approach toward abortion. Church leaders have come out strongly against elective abortion procedures, but favor exemptions in the case of rape or incest, when the health of the mother is threatened or the fetus would not be able to survive outside of the womb due to severe defects. However, the Church counsels even in those cases, abortion should only be sought after consulting with local Church leaders and prayer.

The Utah Political Trends survey found more devout members of the LDS Church, along with faithful adherents of other faiths want to see Roe v. Wade done away with.

  • 64% of “very active” LDS Church members want Roe overturned.
  • 54% of “less active” LDS Church followers would like to see Roe v. Wade remain in place.
  • “Not active” Mormons are nearly evenly divided on whether Roe should be overturned or remain in place.
  • Strict followers of other Christian religions are opposed to Roe, with 56% advocating for overturning the decision.

The Utah Political Trends Survey was conducted by Y2 Analytics among 1,017 registered Utah voters from July 31-August 6, 2019. More information about the polling methodology is available here. You can read more about how our panelists are selected here.