With the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned in a Supreme Court decision in the coming weeks, abortion rights are poised to play a role in November’s midterm elections.
Last month, the leak of a draft Supreme Court majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization suggested the court may overturn 1973’s Roe, which codified the right to an abortion in the United States. If Roe were overturned, abortion laws would be up to the states, giving state legislatures and governors an increased role in determining when and how abortions are available.
A new poll by MinnPost and Change Research found Minnesotans broadly support the right to an abortion in some —but not all — instances.
Most oppose abortion ban
The poll, commissioned by MinnPost and conducted by Change Research, surveyed 1,551 likely general election voters from across Minnesota between June 3 and June 8.
It found 67 percent of Minnesota likely voters oppose a ban on abortions in all circumstances.
Still, while support remained high across many demographics in Minnesota, not all opposed a total ban on abortion in equal measure.
Women (75 percent) were far more likely to oppose an abortion ban than men (58 percent).
College-educated people (74 percent) were more likely to oppose an abortion ban than non-college-educated people (61 percent).
Democrats (95 percent) and pure Independents (71 percent) were far more likely to oppose an all-out ban on abortion than Republicans (37 percent).
And in terms of geography, the majority of likely voters around the state oppose a total ban on abortion, but the opposition is stronger in the Twin Cities (75 percent) and the metro (69 percent) than in Greater Minnesota (61 percent).
More support in some scenarios than others
Those results aren’t inconsistent with how national voters poll: support for abortion is relatively broad, said Cynthia Rugeley, associate professor and head of the political science department at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
Both Republicans and Democrats expressed high levels of support for abortion in some scenarios, including rape, incest, to save the life of the mother and when the pregnancy is not viable.
Minnesotans who identified as Republicans were less likely to support abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy and “In all instances in which a woman chooses to have an abortion and her doctor is able to perform it safely.”
While a majority of Democrats said they supported legal abortion in the second trimester of pregnancy, few Republicans did.
An election issue
In Minnesota, abortions can generally be obtained up to the point at which a fetus could survive outside the uterus, called “fetal viability,” at around 24 weeks of gestation. There are exceptions if the life of the mother is in danger or in the case of a fetal anomaly incompatible with life. Minnesota also has a 24-hour waiting period and an informed consent law requires a script to be read to those seeking abortions.
While some states have passed laws triggering an effective ban on abortions in the event that Roe is overturned, Minnesota is not among them. In Minnesota, abortion is protected at the state level by a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling in Women of the State of Minnesota v. Gomez, and it is regulated by state law.
Still, state candidates have taken positions on abortion issues. Asked about his position on abortion in an interview with MPR, Scott Jensen, the Republican-endorsed gubernatorial candidate, said he supports a ban on abortions. However, Jensen suggested in a WCCO interview that he would potentially support an exception to a ban in situations where the mother’s life is in danger. Tim Walz has said he would protect access to abortion in Minnesota.
What makes abortion interesting in this election is that in general, candidates will likely face more pointed questions about it and be less able to deflect, Rugeley said.
In the past, candidates could talk around the issue of abortion by pointing to the fact that the Supreme Court had already ruled on its legality. If that legality comes into question, dancing around the issue could be harder to do, Rugeley said.
As for how big a role abortion could play in the midterms, that’s still unclear. The election is still months off, and for now, many voters cite the economy as the most pressing issue.
But abortion could play a big role, too. Particularly after a ruling in Dobbs. “For the first time, everybody’s going to have to answer questions on abortion. They’re going to have to have a yes or no,” Rugeley said.
Change Research’s online polling methodology uses targeted social media ads and text messages to recruit respondents. The organization has a B- pollster rating from FiveThirtyEight.
The company uses a “modeled” margin of error, which it says accounts for the effects of weighting the poll (or making adjustments to better reflect the state’s demographics). The results were weighted on age, gender, ethnicity, 2020 vote and region. The margin of error for the statewide sample was +/- 2.6 percentage points. The margin of error for Democrats and leaners is +/- 3.7 percentage points. For Republicans and leaners, it is +/- 3.9 percentage points. For pure independents, it is +/- 6.6 percentage points. For women, it is +/- 3.4 percentage points. For men it is +/- 3.6 percentage points. The regional margins of error are +/- 4.6 percentage points for the Twin Cities, +/- 5.4 percentage points for the metro area and +/- 3.5 percentage points for Greater Minnesota.
Editor’s note: This article previously misstated the law surrounding abortions after fetal viability in Minnesota. This article clarifies that prohibitions on abortion after fetal viability were struck down, though they are generally followed in practice. This story has also been updated to clarify the protections to abortion in Minnesota based on a state Supreme Court ruling.