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Abortion, Conscience, Informed Consent, News, Parental Involvement

Majority of Americans support basic abortion restrictions, but conscience protections misunderstood

On Monday, Gallup published the results of a recent poll demonstrating that “[l]arge majorities of Americans favor the broad intent of several types of abortion restriction laws that are now common in many states, but have mixed or negative reactions to others.”

On one level, the results affirmed what AUL has been saying for years: Americans do not support abortion-on-demand and support commonsense laws that protect both the woman and the unborn child. For example, the majority of states maintain informed consent requirements (31), parental involvement laws (37), and fetal homicide laws (38). According to the poll, 87 percent of Americans support informed consent restrictions, with 69 percent supporting laws requiring a 24-hour reflection period before a woman has an abortion. Similarly, 71 percent of Americans support laws requiring parental consent before a minor obtains an abortion. Even when broken down into partisan numbers, 61 percent of Democrats favor such parental consent laws.

On another level, however, the numbers indicated that more education is necessary to ensure that the American public understands what is at stake in funding abortion providers and in failing to support the conscience rights of health care providers. Gallup reported that 57 percent of Americans oppose laws that prohibit health clinics that provide abortion services from receiving federal funds. In addition, 51 percent of Americans oppose laws allowing pharmacists or other health care providers to opt out of providing medicine or surgical procedures that result in abortion.

These numbers demonstrate the need to further educate the American people (and especially legislators, political pundits, and the media) on 1) the harm inherent in abortion for women, and 2) the constitutional bedrock of conscience in this nation.

First, it is imperative to dispel the myth that “women need abortion.” Touted by financially-interested providers who claim that abortion constitutes necessary “health care” and that women need abortion in order to further their life goals, this myth is eviscerated by medical evidence demonstrating time and time again that abortion carries serious physical and psychological consequences. For example, the majority of women who have abortions do so early in their reproductive lives, and desire to have children at a later date. But at least 114 studies have demonstrated a statistically significant association between induced abortion and pre-term birth in subsequence pregnancies. Women do not need “health care” that places their health, lives, and fertility at risk. Indeed, abortion is not “health care” at all.

Second, conscience protections are rooted in the U.S. Constitution itself. To quote Thomas Jefferson, no provision in the Constitution “ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of civil authority.”

Moreover, the connection between the war on health care rights of conscience and the advancement of the “abortion right” cannot be overemphasized. Recent events demonstrate this connection. In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug ella as a contraceptive. In other words, it is now available by prescription nationwide. However, ella is not truly a “contraceptive” as we generally understand the term; instead, it is of the same class of drugs as the abortion drug RU-486 and can act to kill an already-implanted embryo. Thus, if the conscience rights of pharmacists are not protected, pharmacists will be forced to provide ella and other abortion drugs.

In sum, the Gallup results are cause for both encouragement and concern. It is the goal of AUL to ensure that with more education on the harms of abortion, the need for abortion restrictions, and the importance of conscience protections, these numbers will continue to grow more pro-life with each passing year.