(CN) – Amid a slew of states passing new restrictive abortion laws, a new poll released Wednesday finds 6 in 10 Americans say abortion should be kept legal in most or all cases, the highest number recorded in two decades.
The ABC News/Washington Post poll also found that a record low 36% said abortion should be made illegal in most or all cases, while 73% favor either no change or fewer restrictions to state-level abortion access. Just 24% said abortion access should be more difficult.
The latest numbers show a gradual increase in support for abortion rights since 2001 when just 49% of Americans support legal abortion. Before then, the record 60% support registered in 1995 slowly declined to the 2001 low.
While a majority of Americans want the government to uphold the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade recognizing a woman’s right to choose as a constitutional right, they are split on whether that right should come with restrictions. Of those polled who support abortion rights, 27% said abortion should be legal “in all cases,” while 33% said it should be legal in most cases.
When it comes to men and women, 59% of men surveyed said abortion should be mostly or completely legal, whereas women were slightly higher at 62%. As expected, the topic is divided along partisan lines, with 77% of Democrats supporting legal abortion compared to just 41% of Republicans. Among independent voters, 64% favor abortion rights.
Surprisingly, Republican men (52%) are more likely to support legal abortion than Republican women (32%). Among independents, that is reversed as 71% of women support abortion rights compared to 58% of men. Democratic men and women did not split, though women were 14 points more likely to support abortion rights in all cases.
With abortion rights facing attack from Republican-held state legislatures and a conservative majority Supreme Court, women said the issue is an important part of their 2020 vote. While just 46% of men said the issue of abortion rights is important, 73% of women said the same. Among all Democrats, 71% said legal abortion is “very important” in the upcoming election compared to 57% of Republicans.
Among religious beliefs, the data shows the largest support for abortion rights from those with no religious preference at 81%, followed by 71% of nonevangelical Protestants, 52% of Catholics and 37% of evangelical Protestants.
The poll was conducted June 28 through July 1 among 1,008 American adults and has a sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.