On abortion, the USA is split on pro-life versus pro-choice. State legislatures pass laws safe in the knowledge that they will be struck down the next day. they were playing to a grandstand made up of values voters.
When the supreme court became a little vague on some procedural aspects of abortion law in the early 1990s, the state legislatures started showing much more restraint because the median voter would be annoyed.
Where Roe v. Wade to fall, some states would permit abortion, some would not. The Center for Reproductive Rights predicts that 21 states are likely to outlaw abortion immediately where Roe v. Wade to fall. This assessment is based not only on current law, but on the political makeup of the state legislatures. On the other hand, abortion is likely to remain legal in many states, according to these groups.
Women have in recent years been more likely than men to hold the two absolute positions on abortion — saying it should be either legal under any circumstances or illegal in all circumstances — but these differences are not large.
Within various age and partisan categories, men and women are mostly similar in their views. Only with respect to education, specifically those with a college education, is there a sizable gender gap.
College-educated women are significantly more likely than college-educated men to believe abortion should be legal under any circumstances.
In the broadest terms, the largest segments of Republicans and Democrats have consistently preferred the middle "legal only under certain circumstances" abortion position.
What’s changed since 1975 is that the percentage of Republicans favouring the "illegal in all circumstances" position has grown and the percentage favouring the "legal under any circumstances" position has decreased. The reverse pattern is seen among Democrats.
The question I ask is why isn’t this substantial number of women with reservations to varying degrees about abortion not represented by the feminists who claim to speak on their behalf in the media?
On or about 1990, as a latter-day Virginia Woolf might say, American politics changed. I wouldn’t take the blip of the dotted line at 1990 very seriously–sampling variability and all that–but the general pattern in the graph above is real, and appear in all sorts of other data. In 1988 and before: zero correlations of partisanship with attitudes; since 1992, the correlations have been big and getting larger…
Not only is the abortion/party relationship primarily driven by whites, it is substantially stronger among white elites–that is, people with high income, education, or levels of political information.