Abortion poll: Voters are pro-privacy, pro-prevention

NARAL survey suggests that most people support access to birth control, not candidates who oppose it.

Published August 16, 2006 10:11PM (EDT)

This just in from NARAL Pro-Choice America: When you talk about freedom, privacy and personal responsibility (often code for "birth control"), a majority of voters agree that the government should let women make their own choices about abortion and contraception. A poll of 1,000 registered voters, designed and conducted for NARAL by Lake Research Partners, has revealed the following:

Three quarters of respondents (77 percent) agree that the government and politicians should stay out of a woman's decision whether or not to have an abortion.

Nearly two-thirds of voters (a) "disapprove" when they hear Congress has voted 145 times in the last 10 years to restrict reproductive-health services, including abortion and birth control, (b) feel "less favorable" toward candidates who support allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill birth-control prescriptions, and (c) feel "more negative" toward candidates who oppose making emergency contraception available in ERs for rape and incest victims.

Substantial majorities of respondents say they disapprove of all-out bans on abortion such as those passed in Louisiana and South Dakota, and that they want leaders to offer real solutions to unintended pregnancies -- unlike, say, keeping the Plan B away from the kids.

NARAL president Nancy Keenan suggested in a press release that these results are practically a primer for pro-choice candidates -- voters, sick of sparring, want common-sense, positive action and solutions -- as well as a wake-up call for incumbents and other candidates who think opposing both abortion and birth control is a winning strategy. "We're going to do everything possible to make sure voters know that the current anti-choice Congress is out of step with their values when it comes to protecting a woman's right to choose," said Keenan.

Yes, a lot depends on how one frames the poll questions. (More specifics on that in the PDF summary report.) And I'm not doing my "Bad guys are going DOWN!" jig quite yet, given that Congress, along with equally "out of step" state lawmakers, has succeeded in duping some otherwise reasonable voters into believing that parental-involvement laws are good for teens. But if framing questions well can get good results, then perhaps, just perhaps, framing issues well can do the same.

By Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of BreakupGirl.net. She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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