Public opinion about abortion is changing, but it's not as clear-cut as you might think. A Time cover story in January announced that abortion-rights activists have been "losing" the battle since Roe v. Wade for 40 years. But the Pew Research Center released a study on Monday that shows while national attitudes about abortion have stayed relatively the same since the 1990s, regional attitudes are shifting in opposite directions.
Are abortion rights advocates losing? That depends on where you live. The Pew study shows that in the South Central part of the country, support for keeping abortion legal decreased from 50 percent in 1995-1996 to 42 percent in 2012-2013. South Central includes Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry just signed into law new restrictions on abortion. Conversely, over the same time period, that support has increased from 70 percent to 75 percent in New England. The South Central area and the Midwest were the only regions to experience significant drops in support. Support declined from 55 percent to 47 percent in the Midwest. The regional differences echo the 2012 electoral map.
Unsurprisingly, where support has dropped, conservative lawmakers have been successful in passing abortion restrictions. In states with these bans on abortion at 22 weeks or earlier (including Texas, North Carolina, and North Dakota), 48 percent of people believe that abortion should be illegal in most or all cases. In states that don't, only 36 percent of people feel the same.