New poll finds majority of Louisiana voters support abortion rights; see results
A majority of likely voters in Louisiana support abortion rights and greater access to abortion than allowed under the state’s near-total ban, according to a new poll released Monday.
The poll comes as Louisiana’s legislature convenes for the first time since politicians banned nearly all abortions last year, with only narrow exceptions to save a pregnant person’s life or major organ, or in cases that meet a select list of fatal fetal diagnoses. The survey’s results could signal a significant swing in public opinion in this deeply red state in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.
It was conducted by JMC Analytics and Polling with a sample size of 1,000 likely voters who were called and texted from April 3-6. The poll was also commissioned by local and national groups, including Lift Louisiana, Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response Advocates, National Birth Equity Collaborative, American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana and the Louisiana Coalition for Reproductive Freedom. Of the respondents, 38% identified as Republican, 39% as Democratic and 23% as Independent.
The poll found that 49% of respondents called themselves pro-choice, compared to 44% who called themselves pro-life. In a 2019 poll of a similar size commissioned by Louisiana Right to Life, 70% of respondents said they were pro-life, compared to 30% who said they were pro-choice.
The new poll also found that a majority — 53% — said they would support a constitutional amendment to enshrine abortion rights in Louisiana’s constitution, while 41% were opposed.
The poll also found broad support for abortion access for survivors of rape and incest — 70%, compared to 22% opposed. Louisiana’s current law bans abortions in these cases. But two separate bills proposed in this year’s legislative session – which kicks off today – seek to add these exceptions to the law.
The poll also found a strong majority of respondents support abortions when a physician deems one is necessary to protect a patient’s health (73%). The current law is stricter. It only allows for abortion when the patient’s life is at stake, and the law also requires two physicians to sign off, plus, in some cases, an ultrasound proving the fetus is dead or will die. A majority of respondents also oppose prison time for physicians who perform abortions (59%).
“We are constantly hearing from lawmakers that their constituents want these extreme abortion restrictions, but this poll shows the opposite,” Michelle Erenberg, executive director of Lift Louisiana, said in a statement. “And it is clear, voters across the state, not just in city centers, believe we have gone too far.”
The poll is the second over the last year to suggest a shift in public opinion on abortion in Louisiana. A 2022 Louisiana State University poll found respondents closely split: 46% said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 49% said it should be illegal in all or most cases. Six years earlier, in 2016, there was a larger split: 40% who supported legal abortions compared to 55% who said the procedure should be illegal.
The question of whether Louisiana’s constitution should protect abortion rights is one that voters already had a chance to determine three years ago. In 2020, 62% voted to amend the state’s constitution to prevent any right to abortion or state funding for abortions, except in cases of life endangerment.
This session, state Rep. Mandie Landry (D-New Orleans) is proposing a new law that would allow the public to propose changes to the state's constitution without the approval of politicians. Currently, the legislature has to approve any proposed constitutional amendment before it can be placed on the ballot for voters to decide, and the legislature remains overwhelmingly dominated by lawmakers who oppose abortion rights.
Landry’s bill could open the door to a redo of the 2020 vote.