Polls: Voters Connect Abortion Access and Economic Opportunities

This article was originally posted on RH Reality Check.

Abortion is often described as a hyper-partisan social issue. More than 40 years after Roe v. Wade, conservative state legislatures continue to push stringent anti-abortion laws aimed at eliminating access to the procedure. Meanwhile, Democrats have played defense in red states and those with fairly evenly split legislatures.

A poll published last week found that in the midst of growing political polarization, New York and Pennsylvania voters continue to support policies that protect access to abortion and believe that abortion should be safe and legal.

The poll, conducted by PerryUndem Research/Communication on behalf of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, measured how registered voters in New York and Pennsylvania feel about the reproductive rights-related legislation proposed in the two states by asking questions like, “Do you think issues around access to safe and legal abortion care has an effect on women’s opportunities for financial stability?” and “What things might prevent women from having the same opportunities in life as men?”

The results are clear cut: Eight in 10 respondents in New York and nearly 70 percent in Pennsylvania said they feel favorably towards Roe v. Wade, and three-quarters said they think legislative agendas should include protections for abortion.

At least 80 percent of voters in each state say that they support women’s legislative agendas overall.

Voters not only feel positively about legislation that protects reproductive health-care access, but also reported seeing a connection between access to abortion and economic well being, according to the poll.

“We initiated this research project with a basic hypothesis in mind,” Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, said during a press call. “That the public and voters’ support for abortion access comes from at least in part an understanding [that] a woman’s ability to control when and whether to have children is directly related to her financial stability, her ability … to plan her future, and her well being.”

Three-quarters of respondents in both New York and Pennsylvania said that a woman’s ability to control whether to have children is linked to equality and financial stability, and many said that having and caring for children is a significant factor preventing women from having the same opportunities as men. The survey also found that voters specifically connected abortion access to equality and financial stability.

Legislation being proposed in the two states—the Women’s Equity Act in New York and the Agenda for Women’s Health in Pennsylvania—address many of the issues raised in the survey, including pay equity, domestic violence, sexual harassment, pregnancy accommodation, and protections for reproductive health-care clinics.

Another poll, also conducted by PerryUndem but this time on behalf of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, confirmed the nationwide support for abortion access.

This poll, which surveyed Latino voters in Texas, found that despite the myths that Latinos disapprove of abortion, a strong majority of survey respondents agree with the statement “a woman has a right to make her own personal decisions about abortion without politicians interfering.”

A third survey released this month found that while many voters say that abortion and contraceptive access are important issues to them, other concerns, like the state of the economy and ISIS, figure centrally for more Americans.

The poll, conducted by Gallup in September, measured the top priority issues for voters by party going into the midterm elections by asking, “How important will each of the following issues be to your vote for Congress this year?”

It found that abortion and contraception access is relatively low on the list of important issues, figuring as the top priority issue for 60 percent of Democrats and 43 percent of Republicans. The top voter priorities also differed strongly by party, with 87 percent of Democrats and only 58 percent of Republicans saying equal pay for women was a top priority.

Eighty-five percent of Republicans said fighting Islamic militants was a top priority, while that issue did not make it on the list for Democrats.

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