Mar 29, 2024 - Health

Exclusive poll: Americans strongly back abortion pill access, FDA drug powers

Share who say they support obtaining abortion pills via select methods, by political party
Data: Axios/Ipsos; Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

More than 7 in 10 Americans support access to medication abortion, and even more back the Food and Drug Administration's ability to regulate drugs, a new Axios-Ipsos poll finds.

Why it matters: The findings suggest a Supreme Court decision that would overrule the FDA to limit access to the commonly used abortion pill mifepristone would be out of step with public sentiment in the post-Roe world.

Driving the news: There's widespread support for letting women obtain drugs for medication abortion from their doctor or a clinic, with 72% supporting — including half of Republicans — and 26% opposed.

  • But the public is split almost evenly on obtaining pills through the mail, which is among the FDA permissions that anti-abortion doctors are challenging at high court.
  • 6 in 10 strongly or somewhat agree with states using ballot measures to make, or keep, abortion legal at the state level.
  • "There is a resounding consensus to stop litigating this, that this is a health issue between a woman and a doctor," said Ipsos vice president Mallory Newall.
  • 8 in 10, including two-thirds of Republicans, agreed that the government shouldn't be involved in how a woman manages abortion issues.

Between the lines: On a central question now before the Supreme Court, there's widespread bipartisan support for allowing the FDA to continue approving and regulating medicines in the U.S., with 79% strongly or somewhat agreeing, including 3 in 4 Republicans.

  • Most Americans aren't closely following the fight over medication abortion, with 44% saying they were familiar with this week's oral arguments before the justices.
  • About 3 in 10 are aware of studies showing mifepristone is about as safe as over-the-counter pain relievers.
  • As with our poll after an Alabama Supreme Court decision on IVF embryos, Democrats appear much more tuned in to issues around reproductive rights than Republicans.

Overall attitudes about the legality of abortion remain largely unchanged since Roe v. Wade was overturned: A 15-week nationwide ban on the procedure isn't resonating much beyond the Republican base, with 58% of the public opposed.

  • An identical share also said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who backs restrictions on abortion access, though there were significant partisan divisions.

The intrigue: Democrats tend to view President Biden as in step with his party's abortion policies, but ideologically not as far left as they are.

  • 72% said Biden was moderate or somewhat liberal on abortion, while only 16% characterized him as very liberal. In contrast, 3 in 10 independents characterized him as very liberal.
  • Biden continues to send signals that he's a clear ally on abortion and reproductive rights, and that he's aware it can help turn out the Democratic base.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Poll was conducted March 26-27 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,020 general population adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is ±3.5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.
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