How Californians view abortion

State is home to more than a quarter of U.S. facilities

The hundreds of women’s marches staged across the country over the weekend had a clear rallying cry: Don’t let America go the way of Texas.

One Long Beach demonstrator held a sign that read, “Coronavirus has more reproductive rights in Texas than women do!”

A near-total ban on abortions enacted last month in Texas appears to have energized abortion supporters nationwide, even if participation in the marches remained below previous years’.

On Saturday, protesters flooded streets in San Diego, Eureka, San Jose, Riverside, Sacramento and several other California cities.

But the situation here is far different from the one in Texas and in much of the rest of the nation.

California is home to more than a quarter of U.S. abortion facilities, and many have been treating patients from Texas since the new law took effect. California doctors, meanwhile, have been flying out of state to provide abortions to Texan women.

The latest polling from the Public Policy Institute of California finds that 77 percent of adults here want Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortions, to remain in place. That’s nearly 20 percentage points higher than the share in recent national surveys.

There are most likely several factors at play here: Americans are more likely to support abortion rights if they are college-educated, lean Democratic and don’t identify as religious. Compared with the rest of the country, Californians are more likely to be all three.

That widespread support for abortion has put California in a somewhat unique position within the current abortion landscape. If Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, California law would keep abortions here legal, which wouldn’t be the case in most states.

Still, there is one area where California abortion trends align with the nation: unchanging public views over time.

In the Public Policy Institute poll from July of this year, 21 percent of Californian adults wanted Roe v. Wade overturned, which is nearly unchanged from the 22 percent who shared that belief in 2006.

The same pattern has been seen nationwide, with attitudes toward abortion fluctuating slightly from year to year but remaining largely stable over decades, said Gregory A. Smith of the Pew Research Center.

Fifteen years ago, there was roughly equal opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion in the United States, Smith said. But resistance to same-sex marriage has steadily declined, while it hasn’t for abortion.

“It’s a very different pattern for those two kind of core cultural issues,” Smith told me.

That’s because younger Americans tend to be far more comfortable with same-sex marriage than older generations, while the generational gap in abortion views is much smaller.

This suggests that, even in California, the debate over abortion isn’t disappearing any time soon.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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