For TPM: on the geography of U.S. abortion opinion

This spring Nationhood Lab has been examining the reasons behind the widening chasm on abortion policy that’s opened up since the Dobbs decision, a phenomenon George Washington University law professor Paul Berman has called “the biggest set of nationwide conflicts-of-law problems since the era of the Fugitive Slave Act before the Civil War.” At the end of May we published our detailed report showing significant (but not insurmountable) differences in abortion opinion across the country’s regions and massive (and unbridgeable) differences in the policies regional leaders have pursued.

Last week Talking Points Memo published a magazine length feature on the findings by Nationhood Lab director Colin Woodard, which at this writing remains the lead feature on that that news and opinion site. The story was also cross-posted by Yahoo News.

The Nationhood Lab analysis revealed that abortion bans are unpopular in all the regional cultures (though by significantly varying degrees) and yet leaders of some regions have pushed them through anyway (along with other measures to criminalize traveling to obtain an abortion in states where the procedure remains legal.) It showed the root of the regional differences lies with white Evangelical Christians and their maldistribution across the regions, itself the product of centuries-old settlement history.

In his May 27 TPM story, “The Perplexing Geography of Abortion Opinion,” Woodard writes: “Abortion will likely prevail in any state that allows ballot measures, but many states that have banned or severely restricted the procedure don’t allow citizen initiated-ballot referenda, including almost every one in the Deep South, Greater Appalachia and New France. Which leaves a big political question: If most people in these regions don’t want abortion banned or restricted, how has a white Evangelical minority been able to get their way nonetheless?”

For the answers, enjoy the story and the study.

[This article was cross-posted from]