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Knowledge and Sentiments of Roe v. Wade in the Wake of Justice Kavanaugh’s Nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court


With Justice Kavanaugh joining the U.S. Supreme Court, there is speculation that Roe v. Wade may be overturned. For decades, public opinion polls have asked people how they feel about overturning Roe v. Wade. However, people may be uninformed about Roe v. Wade and the implications of overturning the decision. To account for this, we examined people’s knowledge of and sentiments toward Roe v. Wade using a tiered survey design. First, we assessed participants’ baseline knowledge. Next, we provided information about Roe v. Wade and implications associated with overturning the decision. Finally, we assessed people’s sentiments toward Roe v. Wade. Using quota-based sampling, data were collected from a national sample of English- and Spanish-speaking US adults (N = 2557). Results suggest people are somewhat knowledgeable—they know Roe v. Wade pertains to abortion and they know abortion is currently legal. However, people were less knowledgeable about implications of overturning the decision. Although the majority of our sample supported upholding Roe v. Wade, support was lower compared with previous research. Perhaps being more informed dissuaded some support. We recommend researchers use comprehensive mechanisms to assess complex issues, like Roe v. Wade. We also recommend policy-makers avoid basing important decisions on data from single, simplistic items.

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The authors would like to acknowledge Professor David S. Cohen, JD, for his assistance with the interpretation of legal language and survey development.

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Correspondence to Kristen N. Jozkowski.

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Jozkowski, K.N., Crawford, B.L., Turner, R.C. et al. Knowledge and Sentiments of Roe v. Wade in the Wake of Justice Kavanaugh’s Nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sex Res Soc Policy 17, 285–300 (2020).

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  • Roe v. Wade
  • Abortion
  • Public opinion
  • Abortion knowledge
  • Abortion sentiments