New Polls Show most Americans Support Abortion Access

New polls show that most Americans not only support access to abortion, they oppose the defunding of family planning service providers such as Planned Parenthood. Gee, I wish someone would tell the conservative legislatures that.

According to a recent Harris poll, only 17% of people felt that abortion should not be allowed under any circumstances versus the 83% who felt it should be legal in all or some circumstances. In fact the percentage of people who believe abortion should be legal in ALL circumstances rose significantly between 2009 and 2011. The same poll also found that 66% of Americans feel that current abortion laws should either remain as is or should be changed to make it easier to get an abortion versus only 34% who felt laws should be more restrictive. Also of note in this poll is that 44% to 36% oppose laws that prevent insurance providers from covering abortions.

Another set of polls, one by Gallup and one by NBC/WSJ show that most Americans also oppose the defunding of family planning services. In the Gallup poll, 57% of people are against laws that prohibit health clinics which provide abortions from receiving federal funds. According to the NBC/WSJ poll, 53% of Americans would oppose such laws. The Harris poll also asked about funding to Planned Parenthood on a State level and 55% of the respondents opposed eliminating their funding.

These polls make it clear that Americans do in fact support access to safe abortion, so why are conservative legislatures trying to make it more difficult? In the first half of 2011, over 80 different restrictions to abortion were passed at the state level. Some of these restrictions, such as requiring parental consent before someone under 18 can have an abortion; do actually have high approval ratings. Parental consent laws have a 71% approval rating.

Maybe this small level of approval is being taken to mean that access to abortion should be limited overall. However, supporting some regulations is not the same thing as supporting a complete ban on abortions. Conservatives in power have shown time and again that what they want is to ban ALL abortions in spite of the fact that this is clearly not the will of the people. Our elected officials at the local, state and federal levels all really need to remember that they were not elected to represent themselves; they were elected to represent the people, including the very same women whose rights they are attacking.

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