NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Some fundamental tenets of abortion access have bipartisan support, even among self-identified MAGA Republicans, putting the state’s law out of step with the majority of Tennesseans, the newest Vanderbilt Poll has found. 

Currently in Tennessee, abortion is illegal at any stage of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest. At the time of the survey, a physician who performed an abortion to save the life or physical well-being of the mother can be charged with a felony unless they can affirmatively prove the mother was at risk—Tennessee is the only state in the country with such a requirement.

On April 28, Gov. Bill Lee signed into law a narrow expansion that allows doctors to use “reasonable medical judgment” in determining if an abortion is necessary for the health of the mother.

However, 82% of registered voters, including a majority of voters of all party affiliations, think abortion should be legal in Tennessee if it would prevent the death or serious health risk of the mother. Support is highest among Democrats (95%), followed by Independents (86%), MAGA Republicans (74%), and non-MAGA Republicans (72%). 

At a rate of 3 to 1, Tennesseans oppose the idea that a person should be charged with a crime if they help a Tennessee citizen get an abortion in another state. Opposition to this idea is again bipartisan, with 93% of Democrats, 82% of Independents, 62% of non-MAGA Republicans, and 53% of MAGA Republicans.

“The laws currently on the books in Tennessee are out of step with voters’ views, regardless of party affiliation,” Vanderbilt Poll Co-Director John Geer said.

A majority (59%) of Tennessee voters think the FDA’s approval in 2000 of mifepristone, a drug used for medication abortion, should be upheld. Views were split between Democrats and Independents (respectively, 88% and 66% for upholding) and Republicans (56% for revoking).

With a carveout in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother, a majority (65%) of Tennesseans think abortion should be illegal after 15 weeks. This majority holds across MAGA Republicans (87%), non-MAGA Republicans (83%) and Independents (65%), but not Democrats (31%). 

Additional insights

  • A plurality (46%) of registered voters have a very or somewhat favorable view of the NRA, while 41% have an unfavorable view.
  • A plurality (44%) of registered voters have a very or somewhat favorable view of Planned Parenthood, with 37% holding an unfavorable view.
  • A plurality (49%) of registered voters disagree with the expulsion of two Democratic lawmakers from the Tennessee State House, including a majority of Democrats (93%) and Independents (54%). Only 13% of MAGA Republicans and 22% of non-MAGA Republicans disagree with the expulsion.