Hey Trump, America Doesn't Want An Abortion Ban

by Andi O'Rourke

One of the defining aspects of this particular election cycle is that the Republican presidential candidates have repeatedly attempted to outflank each other on the issue of abortion. The three remaining contenders for the nomination have all come out strongly against abortion access, and only John Kasich supports legal exemptions for women who are the victims of rape or incest. Most of the GOP wants to completely ban abortion — despite what most of the country wants.

Looking at America as a whole, only around 20 percent would outlaw abortion outright, according to a Mother Jones reading of a 2013 Gallup poll. So four out of five believe that abortion should at least be legal in extreme cases like rape or incest. That means a blanket abortion ban isn't a majority opinion — not by a long shot.

According to a Pew Research survey from 2013, even in the Republican Party, opinion about whether or not abortion should be legal is divided pretty much evenly. Forty-eight percent of Republicans don't want Roe overturned, while 46 percent do (six percent are undecided). But these numbers should be viewed within the context of national trends in party affiliation during this election cycle. Less than 30 percent of the country identifies as Republican, according to aggregate polling data compiled by The Huffington Post. The same Pew study also suggests that fewer and fewer Americans are prioritizing it as a critical issue. In 2006, 28 percent of respondents said it was a "critical issue facing the country." That fell to 18 percent in 2013.

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So why is abortion still a hot-button issue for the sorry remains of the GOP presidential field? The gerrymandering of districts is one reason. Rural America is already over-represented in Congress, and the most recent round of gerrymandering has tended to favor the GOP. Another reason is that the evangelical base is still a force in the GOP, and can be counted on to turn out a sizable chunk of voters. Finally, follow the money. Abortion access is an issue in elections because it is one that some big GOP donors apparently care about a lot.

Despite the maddening debate over abortion access in the Republican Party, there has been blessedly little talk about the issue on the Democratic side, except in reference to the GOP. Most of the country has come around on the idea that abortions should be safe, legal, and rare, meaning Roe v. Wade shouldn't be overturned. However, it's anyone's guess when that news will reach the upper echelons of the GOP.