Effects of a US Supreme Court ruling to restrict abortion rights

Chelsey S. Clark, Elizabeth Levy Paluck, Sean J. Westwood, Maya Sen, Neil Malhotra, Stephen Jessee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Previous research focused on popular US Supreme Court rulings expanding rights; however, less is known about rulings running against prevailing public opinion and restricting rights. We examine the impact of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization opinion, which overturned Roe v. Wade’s (1973) constitutional protection of abortion rights. A three-wave survey panel (5,489 interviews) conducted before the leak of the drafted Dobbs opinion, after the leak, and after the official opinion release, and cross-sectional data from these three time points (10,107 interviews) show that the ruling directly influenced views about the constitutional legality of abortion and fetal viability. However, personal opinions were not directly influenced and perceived social norms shifted away from the ruling, meaning that individuals perceived greater public support for abortion. We argue that extensive coverage of opposition to overturning Roe v. Wade supported this shift. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization also caused large changes, polarized by party identification, in opinions about the Supreme Court.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-71
Number of pages9
JournalNature Human Behaviour
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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