Iowans disapprove of U.S. Supreme Court, approve of legal abortion in Register poll

By: - July 25, 2022 6:26 pm

A pro-choice activist holds up a sign during a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in response to the leaked Supreme Court draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade May 3, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Most Iowans disapprove of the U.S. Supreme Court and approve of legal abortion in most or all cases in the wake of the ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, according to the latest Iowa Poll.

Less than half – 41% — of Iowans approve of the U.S. Supreme Court, according to Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll results released Monday. Roughly half, 51%, said they disapprove of the court and 8% were not sure.

The July poll also found that 60% of Iowans say abortion should be legal in most or all cases. Of the remaining poll respondents, 34% said abortion should be illegal in most or all cases, and 6% said they were not sure.

The poll of 811 Iowa adults, conducted from July 10-13 by Selzer & Co., reflects a national backlash against the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization this June, which established that abortion is no longer a constitutional right.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for results using the complete sample.

Iowa’s abortion laws

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling returns to states the ability to implement restrictions on abortion. Abortion is now illegal in some states, including South Dakota, Missouri and Wisconsin, where laws previously ruled unconstitutional are now upheld.

Abortion is still legal in Iowa, and Gov. Kim Reynolds has said she has no plans to call a special legislative session this summer.

However, Reynolds is approaching Iowa courts to lift the injunction on the state’s fetal-heartbeat law, which effectively bans abortions after six weeks.

She also asked the Iowa Supreme Court to redecide the state’s 24-hour waiting period case, which the court declined. The majority of justices chose in June to send the waiting period law back down to a lower court for a decision but found in their ruling on the case that the state constitution does not guarantee a right to abortion.

While Iowa Poll respondents disapproved of the federal Supreme Court, approval is much higher for the Iowa Supreme Court. The poll found that 48% of Iowans approve of the state’s high court, while 28% disapprove and 24% are not sure.

Outside of the governor’s legal battles, there are no explicit plans to fully ban abortion in Iowa. However, Republican lawmakers in the Iowa Legislature are trying to amend the state constitution to specify there is no right to abortion. The amendment was first passed in 2021, and the Legislature must pass it again next year or in 2024, before Iowa voters have a final say at the ballot box.

Over half of Iowans, 56%, disapprove of the proposed amendment.

Changes to the court?

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision led to a flurry of national action – including legislation passed in the U.S. House codifying the right to abortion and protecting patients’ rights to travel across state lines for abortion services.

House lawmakers also passed legislation protecting the right to gay and interracial marriage, as well as access to contraception. Both gay marriage and birth control are legal by Supreme Court precedent. But in a concurring opinion overturning Roe, Justice Clarence Thomas said the court should “reconsider” these and other rights.

The threat of further changes has some Democratic lawmakers considering expanding the Supreme Court or imposing term limits on justices. A poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released Monday found 67% of Americans support a proposal for Supreme Court justices to serve a set number of years instead of the current lifetime appointment.

The poll found that fewer Americans were in favor of expanding the Supreme Court, with 34% in favor and 34% opposing.

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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. Robin has experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald, in addition to working on multimedia projects, newsletters and visualizations. They were a political reporter for the Des Moines Register covering the Iowa caucuses leading up to the 2020 presidential election, assisting with the Register's Iowa Poll, and reporting on Iowa's 4th District elections.

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