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New Poll Shows Americans Don't Understand Roe v. Wade


Susan B. Anthony List


CONTACT:  Missi Evans (703) 683-5558 OR Jessica Quinn (404) 691-2505

WASHINGTON – April 25, 2006 - A national poll released today at the National Press Club by the Real Women’s Voices coalition shows that while 65 percent of Americans say they are familiar with the 1973 landmark abortion case, Roe vs. Wade, only 29 percent are able to select an accurate description of the ruling. Real Women’s Voices is a coalition of national and state-based pro-life organizations bringing women from across the country to Washington on Wednesday to lobby Congress. The national survey of 1000 adults age 18 and over was conducted by the polling company,inc./WomanTrend on April 13-14, 2006.  The margin of error is calculated at +/- 3.1 percent.

Key Findings:

Sixty-five percent of respondents said they considered themselves familiar (23 percent very familiar and 42 percent somewhat familiar) with the 1973 United States Supreme Court case of Roe vs. Wade.  Thirty-one percent said they were not familiar (19 percent just a little familiar and 12 percent not at all familiar).

Though 65 percent said they were familiar with Roe, when asked to identify which of four descriptions most accurately describes what the case provides as the law, only 29 percent selected the correct description:

29%      Made abortion legal in essentially all circumstances throughout pregnancy

18%        Made abortion legal but only in the first trimester

17%        Made abortion legal but only in limited circumstances

15%        Made abortion legal but only in the first and second trimesters

The majority (54 percent) agreed with one of three traditional pro-life statements:

- Abortion should be prohibited in all circumstances,

- Abortion should be legal only to save the life of the mother,

- Abortion should be legal only in cases of rape, incest or to save the mother’s life. 

Only 41 percent selected a pro-choice view.  Notably, three-quarters of Americans (75 percent) say they believe abortions should never be allowed, allowed only in very limited circumstances, or not past the first trimester of pregnancy. The 18-34 year old group (especially 18-34 year old women) was more likely than respondents overall to identify with one of the three pro-life views of abortion.

Statements from Real Women’s Voices sponsors:

Roe is hanging by a thread that is increasingly being frayed by the American people’s exposure to the facts of abortion.  These numbers show that our abortion laws don’t represent the beliefs of the vast majority of Americans, including American women.” – Marjorie Dannenfelser, Susan B. Anthony List  

“Not surprisingly, a majority (54 percent) of Americans do not agree with what Roe permits-- that is, unrestricted abortion for any reason, even as a method of birth control.  And while a majority of those polled (65 percent) say they are familiar with Roe, only 29 percent actually knew that Roe made abortion legal in essentially all circumstances throughout pregnancy.” – Karen Cross, National Right to Life

“True Feminism means listening to the voices of women, it is my hope that the Senators we visit this week will really listen to the message from Real Women's Voices.” – Janet Morana, Priests For Life

“Women around the country want common-sense legislation on abortion. We hear senators claim they want to ‘reduce the number of abortions.’ Pro-life women will be presenting the opportunity for them to prove it, telling senators to pass laws restricting abortionists from taking advantage of young women.” – Wendy Wright, Concerned Women for America

“This is the civil rights issue of our day, and women’s voices are leading the way toward change. As we look ahead to the 2006 Congressional elections, we are here to tell Congress that real women want a real response to pro-life issues.” – Charmaine Yoest, Family Research Council

For a list of Real Women’s Voices sponsors and full poll results, go to

Read the entire report in [html format] or [pdf format]


Priests for Life
PO Box 236695 • Cocoa, FL 32923
Tel. 321-500-1000, Toll Free 888-735-3448 •