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Poll: Most Americans Want Congress to Pass a Bill to Protect Abortion Rights

The poll corroborated previous findings that a majority of Americans want “Roe v. Wade” to stay as it is.

A protester holds a placard up that says "Reproductive rights = Human rights" during a protest in Reno, Nevada, on May 7, 2022.

Not only do most Americans want the Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade, but they also want Congress to pass a federal law to guarantee that abortion will remain legal, new polling finds.

The CBS News/YouGov poll of 2,088 adult U.S. residents found that 58 percent of poll respondents want Congress to pass a bill legalizing abortion nationwide, versus 42 percent who would oppose such a bill. Eighty-seven percent of Democrats polled were in favor of the legislation.

The findings also corroborate previous polling revealing that most Americans don’t want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe, as it appears poised to do following the leak of a draft opinion last week. Sixty-four percent of respondents in the CBS/YouGov poll said that they favored keeping Roe, including 90 percent of Democrats.

Respondents also generally understood that, if Roe is overturned, people of color and poor people would have a harder time having access to abortions, while wealthy people’s access would largely remain unchanged. Trans people, who already face hurdles to obtain health care, would also have a harder time accessing abortion services if Roe protections were gone.

Many Democrats in Congress are working on enshrining abortion rights into law, but there’s little chance that they’ll succeed. After the Supreme Court upheld Texas’s abortion law, which effectively banned the vast majority of abortions, the House of Representatives passed a bill largely along party lines to allow health providers to provide abortions “prior to fetal viability” or if the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant person’s health. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) was the lone Democrat who voted against the bill.

Passing the Senate will be a hurdle for Democrats — one that is likely impassable. Last week, about 30 Democrats gathered on the steps of the Capitol to announce their support for abortion access and vow to protect it. However, an abortion rights bill will not be able to pass the filibuster threshold of 60 votes, with Republicans in favor of implementing even harsher abortion restrictions nationwide.

Further, even if Democrats eliminated the filibuster for this purpose, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) is a staunch opponent of abortion rights, meaning that the party wouldn’t have enough internal support for the cause.

Some abortion rights advocates point out that this last-minute scramble to enshrine abortion rights into law is a display of the Democratic Party’s weakness, as Democrats have had decades to pass legislation to guarantee abortion rights but have failed to do so.

Indeed, even as the public is in an uproar about the attack on abortion rights, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and other top Democrats have remained quiet about her endorsement of Cuellar, the only anti-abortion Democrat in the House. The Texas representative is facing a primary battle in his home state from Jessica Cisneros, a progressive pro-abortion candidate who’s been endorsed by high-profile lawmakers on the left like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York).

“Time and time again, we have seen Democrats use abortion rights as a campaign issue and fail to deliver on their promises to protect and expand our right to reproductive freedom,” Analilia Mejia, co-executive director or the Center for Popular Democracy, told NPR. “We deserve leadership that represents the vast majority of Americans who believe abortion should be accessible and affordable to all who require this critical health care.”

Abortion rights advocates have also been calling on President Joe Biden to come out with a hard stance on the issue. Last week, Biden broke his silence on abortion rights to oppose the Supreme Court draft opinion but has declined to say whether he supports eliminating the filibuster for this cause.

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