Public opinion about the 1973 case has held relatively steady in recent decades, though the share saying the decision should not be overturned is up slightly from four years ago, Pew Research Center’s December survey found. In January 2013, 63% said this, which was similar to views measured in surveys conducted over the prior two decades.
Support for upholding the Roe v. Wade decision is widely shared among liberal Democrats (87% of whom say it should not be completely overturned) and conservative and moderate Democrats (82%).
Views on the case also vary significantly by education and religious affiliation.
Majorities across all levels of education say the court should not overturn Roe v. Wade. Still, higher levels of education are associated with less support for overturning the decision: Nearly nine-in-ten of those with postgraduate degrees (88%) say the court should not overturn the decision, compared with about seven-in-ten of those with a college degree (74%) or some college experience (70%) and 62% of those with a high school diploma or less education.
Among all Protestants, nearly two-thirds say the Supreme Court should not overturn the decision (63%), while 35% think it should be overturned. But white evangelical Protestants are more divided than other Protestants: 49% think the case should not be overturned, compared with 47% who say it should.
By contrast, an overwhelming majority of those who are religiously unaffiliated (89%) think the court should not overturn Roe v. Wade, while just 9% think the case should be completely overturned.
Support for maintaining Roe v. Wade is somewhat higher than broader measures of public support for legal abortion, but the overall patterns of opinion are similar. In October, 59% of the public said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared with 37% who said abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.
While a steady majority has said abortion should be legal in recent years, support in October was as high as it had been in two decades. Still, as with views of Roe v. Wade, the partisan gap in support for legal abortion has grown wider in recent years. While 79% of Democrats say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, just 34% of Republicans say the same.