Americans Divided As SCOTUS Weighs Abortion Pill Access

SCOTUS Weighs Abortion Pill Access

Americans remain divided on whether women should see a doctor in person before receiving abortion pills, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering whether to reimpose this restriction on medication abortion.

However, broad bipartisan majorities oppose allowing states with abortion bans to block access to the procedure in emergency cases needed to protect the mother’s health, which is the focus of another case before the court.

The poll’s findings come as the court prepares to rule on its most high-profile abortion cases since 2022, when the justices overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established the national right to abortion.

From May 7-14, about 50% of respondents supported the in-person doctor visit requirement for abortion medication, while 33% opposed it, and 17% were unsure. Around 67% of Republicans and 37% of Democrats favored the in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone.

The court, with a 6-3 conservative majority, is expected to rule by late June on a case challenging the accessibility of mifepristone, a drug used in a two-part medication regimen to induce abortion in early pregnancies. Anti-abortion groups and doctors brought the case, challenging the Food and Drug Administration’s allowance of medication abortions up to 10 weeks of pregnancy instead of seven, and permitting mail delivery of the drug without an in-person visit to a clinician. During March arguments, the justices appeared skeptical that the groups had the legal standing needed to pursue the case.

Respondents divided

While respondents were divided on tightening abortion pill regulations, broad majorities opposed Idaho’s challenge to a federal law known as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). This law requires states to allow patients access to abortion in emergency cases. About 77% of respondents, including 86% of Democrats and 77% of Republicans, supported requiring states with strict abortion bans to permit abortion if necessary to protect the health of a pregnant patient facing a medical emergency. The court’s decision in this case is also expected by late June.

Majorities of both parties also opposed state governments tracking pregnancies to take action if the pregnancies are terminated in violation of state law. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump recently told Time magazine he would not stop states from monitoring pregnancies.

Since the court’s 2022 decision to overturn Roe, 16 states have banned abortion in most or all cases, and medication abortion has become the most common method of ending pregnancies, now accounting for over 60% of U.S. abortions.

The share of Americans who support abortion rights has grown over the last decade. In the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, 57% of respondents said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, up from 46% in 2014. About 31% in the latest poll said abortion should be illegal in most or all cases, down from 43% in 2014. About one in ten respondents consistently remain unsure.

The latest poll gathered responses from 3,934 U.S. adults nationwide in an online survey conducted from May 7-14. The margin of error is about 2 percentage points for all respondents and about 3 points for Republicans and Democrats.