Poll: Nearly 8 in 10 US AAPI adults think abortion should be legal

Even AAPI Republicans are somewhat supportive of legal abortion: More than half say abortion should be legal in some or all cases.
Supporters of abortion rights dressed as Abraham Lincoln chant during a Planned Parenthood rally
Posted at 10:30 PM, Mar 21, 2024

With abortion rights poised to be one of the major issues in the 2024 election, a new poll shows that Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the United States are highly supportive of legal abortion, even in situations where the pregnant person wants an abortion for any reason.

The poll from AAPI Data and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that nearly 8 in 10 Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders think abortion should be legal in all or most cases. They're also supportive of federal government action to preserve abortion rights: Three-quarters of AAPI adults say Congress should pass a law guaranteeing access to legal abortions nationwide.

By comparison, an AP-NORC poll conducted last June found that 64% of U.S. adults think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and 6 in 10 U.S. adults overall say Congress should pass a law guaranteeing access. AAPI adults are more likely than Americans overall to identify as Democrats, which may partially explain why their levels of support for legal abortion are higher than among the general population. 

But, even among Democrats, AAPI adults are more supportive of legal abortion later in pregnancy. AAPI Democrats are especially likely to support legal abortion without any limits — more than half of this group say abortion should be legal in all cases, compared to 40% of Democrats overall.

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Eva Burch, Democratic Arizona State Senator.

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AAPI Republicans are also more likely than Republicans overall to support a law guaranteeing access to legal abortion nationwide. More than half (57%) of AAPI Republicans think abortion should be legal in at least some cases, compared to 38% of Republicans in general. 

About half (51%) of AAPI Republicans also think Congress should pass a law guaranteeing access to legal abortion nationwide, while only 32% of Republicans overall want this to happen. Although AAPI voters are a fast-growing demographic with a particularly large presence in states like California, Texas and New York, their attitudes can often not be analyzed in other surveys because of small sample sizes, among other issues. 

This survey is part of an ongoing project focusing on AAPI Americans' views. High turnout in areas with large AAPI communities could help Democrats in competitive House districts, and a broader conversation about whether nonwhite voters are shifting to the right may lead to more courting of AAPI voters. 

The survey's findings suggest that abortion could be a strong issue for Democratic candidates who are looking to reach AAPI communities, and a challenge for Republicans.

"It saddens me how politics got involved in this, and they really shouldn't have," said Debra Nanez, a 72-year-old retired nurse in Tucson, Arizona, and an Independent voter. Nanez identifies as Asian, Native American and Hispanic. 

"It's a woman's body. How can you tell us what we can do with our bodies, what we can keep and what we cannot keep? It's ridiculous."

While an AP-NORC poll conducted in October 2022 found that more than 4 in 10 Americans overall trust Democrats to do a better job of handling the issue of abortion, while only 2 in 10 have more trust in Republicans, the poll released Thursday shows that the trust gap between the parties is wider for AAPI adults. Fifty-five percent of AAPI adults trust Democrats on abortion policy, while only 12% trust Republicans.

More than half of AAPI adults were born outside the U.S., according to the survey. For many of those immigrants and their first-generation American children, abortion isn't just viewed as health care — it can also be seen as a right that was not afforded to them in their countries of origin, said Varun Nikore, executive director of AAPI Victory Alliance, a progressive political advocacy organization.

"I think it has to do with some sort of home country attitudes that are sort of pervasive, but also the strong feeling we've had rights and we've had access to health care, and now we don't want to lose something that we had. And it could be that we also came to this country to have better access to health care than we did before," Nikore said.

Nearly 6 in 10 AAPI adults don't want Congress to pass a law preserving states’ ability to set their own laws allowing or restricting abortion, and only 14% support the passage of a law banning access to abortions nationwide. Joie Meyer, 24, is a health care consultant in Florida, where abortions are prohibited after 15 weeks of pregnancy. She said that given that other nearby states like Alabama and Georgia have even more restrictive abortion laws, she would have to travel far to receive the procedure.

"I'm 24 and maybe some people my age are having children, but if I were to get in that position to be pregnant, I don't think I would feel ready," she said. "So, that would be something that I would have to think about."

Meyer, who was born in China but has lived in the U.S. since she was an infant, has made plans with a friend in California in case she does need an abortion. Flying across the country might be more time-consuming than driving to the nearest state that provides abortion, but she said she wants to know that she'll be with someone who can take care of her during the recovery.

"Even if there's a closer state, would I want to do that alone and have to really navigate that physical and emotional pain alone? Not really," Meyer said.

The poll of 1,172 U.S. adults who are Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders was conducted from Feb. 5-14, 2024, using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based Amplify AAPI Panel, designed to be representative of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population. 

The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.