10/04/2005 - The confirmation hearings for Harriet Miers to become a justice of the Supreme Court will once again highlight a complex web of issues related to abortion, on which she may become theswing vote. While activists on both sides describe abortion as an issue on which there is no middle ground, decades of polling have shown public opinion on abortion to be anything but black-andwhite.
Clearly, Americans believe that no single issue before the court has greater importance. A Pew survey in July found that 63% said that abortion was a very important issue before the court; only the rights of detained terrorist suspects were seen as equally significant. Other recent surveys show that most Americans feel it is important for the Senate to learn a nominee’s position on abortion before voting on their confirmation.
The public has long been strongly supportive of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which established a woman’sright to abortion. In July, the Pew Research Center found that by more than two-to-one (65%-29%), the public opposed completely overturning Roe. That is in line with surveys conducted by Pew and the Gallup Organization dating back to 1989.
Read the full analysis Abortion, the Court and the Public on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.