A significant majority of Americans do not support laws that would prohibit access to drugs used in medication abortions, and confidence in the US supreme court is at a new low, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released on Monday.
A majority of Americans also do not believe federal judges should be able to overturn the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of a prescription drug, the poll found.
Sixty-four per cent of Americans oppose a law that would ban access to medication abortion – the use of prescribed pills to end a pregnancy. There was broad partisan consensus on that – 73% of Democrats opposed such a ban, along with 57% of independents and 55% of Republicans.
The finding comes amid a somewhat muted Republican response as an effort to block access to mifepristone moves through the federal courts. A federal judge in Texas blocked access to the pill earlier this month, overturning the FDA’s approval of the drug more than two decades ago. The US supreme court temporarily halted that ruling on Friday, allowing continued access to the medication while an appeal proceeds. The survey of 1,291 adults was conducted from 17 to 19 April – before the US supreme court’s decision.
After the US supreme court overturned Roe v Wade, Democrats seized on concerns about abortion to win key races last year as well as a state supreme court race in Wisconsin earlier this month.
“This is an issue that Republicans have largely been on the wrong side of,” said US Republican congresswoman Nancy Mace of South Carolina this month. “We have over the last nine months not shown compassion towards women. And this is one of the issues that I’ve tried to lead on, as someone who is pro-life and just has some common sense.
“If we have our head in the sand, we’re gonna lose,” said Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican US senator who supports a national 15-week abortion ban.
The NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist poll also found that 61% of Americans do not support allowing federal judges to overturn the FDA’s approval of a drug.
Partisan attitudes were more split on that issue, with 75% of Democrats, 62% of independents, and 45% of Republicans saying the FDA should have the final say. A slim majority of Republicans (51%) said that judges should be able to overturn the FDA’s approval.
The survey also found that Americans’ confidence in the US supreme court continued to drop as the high court faces scrutiny over its continued politicization and Justice Clarence Thomas’s financial relationships. Only 37% of Americans said they had a great deal or some level of confidence in the court. That was the lowest level of confidence the poll had measured since 2018, when it first began asking about confidence. Then, 59% of Americans said they had a great deal or good amount of confidence in the court.
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