Broad majorities of Americans oppose key provisions of a restrictive Texas abortion law, and a majority disagrees with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed the law, which effectively bans abortions after six weeks, to go into effect, a new poll finds.

The new law takes a novel approach, relying on private citizens to sue people who help women get forbidden abortions, effectively eliminating the guarantee in Roe v. Wade and subsequent Supreme Court decisions that women have a right to end their pregnancies before viability, and that states may not impose undue burdens on that decision.

In the Monmouth University Poll, 70 percent of Americans say they disapprove of allowing private citizens to use lawsuits to enforce the law rather than having government prosecutors handle cases.

Meanwhile, 81 percent say they disapprove of giving $10,000 to private citizens who successfully file suits against those who perform or assist a woman with getting an abortion.

The poll also finds that 54 percent of Americans say they disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision to let the law stand while the legal battle over it continues.

The court’s five most consistent conservatives – Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr., plus President Donald Trump’s nominees to the court, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – said in a ruling earlier this month that they would let the law take effect. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined the court’s three liberals to say he would have kept the law from being implemented while its legality was weighed in court.

“The American public is largely pro-choice, although many would accept some limitations on abortion access. This Texas law goes way too far for most people,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a statement. “The ‘bounty’ aspect in particular seems objectionable.”

The poll finds that 62 percent of Americans say abortion should either be always legal or legal with some limitations. Another 24 percent of respondents say it should be illegal except for rape, incest or to save the mother’s life, and 11 percent say it should always be illegal. Those numbers are largely unchanged from a Monmouth poll two years ago.

In the wake of the enactment of the Texas law, the Democratic-led U.S. House is poised to vote as early as this week on codifying Roe v. Wade. The measure is not expected to advance in the evenly divided Senate.

American’s views on whether the Supreme Court should have allowed the Texas law to go into effect break largely along partisan lines. Most Democrats (73 percent) disagree with the decision while most Republicans (62 percent) agree.

When asked about two key provisions of the Texas law, the vast majority of Democrats and independents voice opposition. Republicans are split on having private citizens enforce the law (46 percent approves and 41 percent disapproves), while most Republicans (67 percent) take a negative view of the $10,000 payment provision.

The Monmouth University poll also finds that the public’s view of the Supreme Court has dimmed during the past five years, a period that coincides with highly partisan Senate battles over three of Trump’s nominees.

In the new poll, 42 percent of Americans say they approve of the job the court is doing while 45 percent disapprove. In 2016, 49 percent approved while 33 percent disapproved.

The decline has largely been driven by the views of Democrats, whose approval has dropped over the five years from 65 percent to 33 percent. During the same period, the approval rating from Republicans has climbed, from 36 percent to 52 percent.

The poll also finds little support for expanding the number of justices on the court, an idea advanced by liberals seeking to counter the conservative direction it took during the Trump years. Thirty-six percent of Americans say they support the idea, while 58 percent say they oppose it, according to the poll.

The Monmouth University poll of 802 adults was conducted by phone from Sept. 9 to Sept. 13. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

 

The Washington Post’s Robert Barnes contributed to this report. 


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