Roe v. Wade overturned: Majority of Massachusetts residents support abortion rights, poll shows

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday handed down a decision overturning the decades-old landmark case Roe v. Wade that established the right for a person to choose to have an abortion, a ruling that a strong majority of Massachusetts residents appear to disagree with, the results of a recent poll showed.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst/WCVB poll, published Friday, looked at responses from 1,000 residents in the Bay State from June 15 to June 21 and found that 63% of respondents believed the Supreme Court should not have overturned Roe, while only 24% agreed with the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

No demographic groups other than Republicans and conservatives registered more than 30% support for the Supreme Court’s recent controversial decision, with 55% and 56% of each group of respondents saying Roe should be overturned, respectively, according to UMass Amherst.

Additionally, the poll found that 56% of respondents, including 60% of women and 63% of residents ages 18 to 29, also said that Congress should now pass a law making abortion legal in all 50 states.

“Breaking with decades of precedent, today the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and in so doing now allows states to determine the legality of a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion,” Tatishe Nteta, an associate professor of political science at UMass Amherst and the director of the poll, said in a statement. “While close to half of U.S. states will likely outlaw abortion, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts a majority of its citizens not only oppose the court’s decision but support the Congress passing a law that will make abortion legal in all 50 states.”

In Washington, D.C. and around 20 states, like Massachusetts, the right to have an abortion is legal and likely to remain protected for now. However, around 25 states are expected to implement bans in the coming months, The Washington Post reported.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs, Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker issued an executive order that protects abortions providers who treat residents from outside the commonwealth, including from states that are expected to criminalize abortion.

The Bay State already has some of the strongest laws protecting abortion rights in the United States. Two years ago, Massachusetts lawmakers passed the Roe Act that expanded access for teenagers and those more than 24 weeks into pregnancy. Legislators overrode Baker’s veto in the process.

“Here in the commonwealth, the right to choose to have an abortion is safe for the time being,” Nteta noted.

Still, those in favor of abortion rights, a number that pollsters estimate includes more than half of Americans, worry about the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision on people who live in states that are expected to outlaw abortion, particularly individuals with lower incomes and in already vulnerable communities.

“I want to be clear that this is an assault and affront achieved by right wing ideologues who are doing their damnedest to keep women down,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who is the frontrunner in the state’s gubernatorial race, said an interview with GBH on Friday. “It’s a real gut-punch today, just thinking about the Supreme Court having taken us so far backward — and to be clear, what [Justice] Alito has come up with is complete BS.”

Friday’s UMass Amherst/WCVB poll also found that more than one-third of Massachusetts residents indicated that the decision to overturn Roe will increase their likelihood to turn out to vote in 2022. The sentiment was most pronounced among Democrats and liberals.

“Like it or not, the Supreme Court just made the issue of abortion and women’s rights a key factor in the 2022 midterm election,” Nteta said. “… [T]his news will likely hurt Republicans on the ballot in Massachusetts and across the nation this upcoming November.”

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