New poll: Support for use of violence to restore ‘right to abortion’ increases

Crisis pregnancy security footage A man wielding a machete is shown in security footage outside Alternatives Pregnancy Center in Sacramento, California, at 8:15 a.m. on July 8, 2022. | Credit: Courtesy of Alternatives Pregnancy Center

A new poll from the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Threats has found that Americans’ support for violence to restore a federal right to abortion has grown significantly over the last six months.

The survey found that 12% of Americans agreed with the statement “The use of force is justified to restore the federal right to abortion.” That’s a sharp increase from the 8% who agreed with the statement in January.

The increase was most pronounced among self-described Democrats. About 8% of Democrats in January said they favored the use of violence to restore abortion rights, compared with 16% who agreed with the statement in June.

Independents’ support for violence to restore the federal right to abortion rose from 11% to 14% from January to June. Among Republicans, the number remained at 6%. 

The new poll follows a year that saw a series of pro-abortion attacks against Catholic churches, pregnancy resource centers, and other pro-life institutions across the nation beginning in May 2022. The latest attack was on July 24 on a pregnancy center in Las Vegas.

The targeting of pro-life institutions began after a May 2022 draft opinion leak from the U.S. Supreme Court indicated that the justices were poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that legalized abortion nationwide.

The report, titled “Dangers to Democracy: Tracking Deep Distrust of Democratic Institutions, Conspiracy Beliefs, and Support for Political Violence Among Americans,” was conducted by the University of Chicago’s Chicago Project on Security and Threats and released July 10. The survey measured Americans’ views on whether violence is justified for various political ends. 

The poll was conducted June 22–26 and had a margin of error of 2.3 percentage points, with a 95% confidence level among all adults 18 and over.

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