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Opinion Survey Shows Broad Support in U.S. for Action to Bolster Reproductive Health Care

July 11, 2007

Opinion Survey Shows Broad Support in U.S. for Action to Bolster Reproductive Health Care

Voters broadly share a desire for change in public policy and government action on issues surrounding reproductive health care and abortion; voters want to know lawmakers understand the complexity of these issues and have specific and comprehensive common-sense solutions for changing the country's approach.

Washington, D.C., July 12, 2007 - As Congress considers a wide array of reproductive health issues during this year's Appropriations season, a national opinion survey sponsored by the National Women's Law Center and Planned Parenthood Federation of America demonstrates overwhelming support across broad constituencies for positive and proactive movement by policymakers on issues surrounding contraception and reproductive health care more broadly. The survey of 1,870 voters uncovered deep dissatisfaction - by a margin of 58 percent to 24 percent - with the country's current approach to reproductive health issues and found that voters express broad-based support for proactive public policy changes on these issues. Voters surveyed are looking to elected officials to provide common-sense solutions to problems such as limited access to contraceptives and a lack of comprehensive sex education in public schools.

Fully 76 percent of voters wanted to see U.S. public schools teaching comprehensive sex education - including majorities of Democrats (83 percent), Republicans (66 percent), Independents (76 percent), Catholics (78 percent), and evangelical Christians (60 percent). Only 14 percent of voters surveyed supported teaching "abstinence only" in public schools. Almost three-quarters (73 percent) of voters strongly favor making it easier for women at all income levels to obtain contraceptives. Seventy-one percent of voters also expressed strong opposition to protections for pharmacy policies that allow pharmacists to refuse to fill doctors' prescriptions on the basis of individual objections. The survey also revealed strong support for an array of other policy initiatives, ranging from protecting women and health care providers from clinic violence and intimidation to requiring insurance equity for contraceptive coverage.

"The results of this research are clear, and Members of Congress should take notice," said Marcia Greenberger, Co-President of the National Women's Law Center. "Americans overwhelmingly support a reproductive health agenda that will make a real difference in the lives of women and their families. Voters are not happy with the status quo, and want to see action on a range of reproductive health issues - from contraceptive coverage to comprehensive sex education."

"Americans are looking for common-sense approaches to America's health care crisis," said Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "The research is startling in the clarity of voters' positions in favor of comprehensive sex education, access to contraception and helping women prevent unintended pregnancies. The current administration is way out of line with these positions, as we learned when the former Surgeon General testified that he was prevented from talking about the effectiveness of contraception and comprehensive sex education."

This groundbreaking research was aimed at understanding reproductive health and abortion-related issues within a policy context and was designed to understand what voters want government to do and how voters want policymakers to act in addressing these issues. In just the last several weeks, Congress has considered legislation to improve U.S. international family planning policy, reauthorize the Title V abstinence-only program, and provide funding for the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes funding for domestic family planning services. In light of the many opportunities for policymakers to reshape the U.S. commitment to reproductive health, the survey results make clear that voters overwhelmingly want elected officials to take advantage of opportunities like these to expand support for common-sense policies.

These findings are based on a poll conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates. The telephone survey consisted of 1,870 registered voters with oversamples of African-American and Hispanic voters from March 16 to 25, 2007. The margin of error for the overall findings is +/-2.3% and is higher for specific subgroups.

For a more detailed analysis of the poll results, please click here .

Media contact:

Ranit Schmelzer (NWLC), 202-588-5180 Amy Weiss (Point Blank Public Affairs for PPFA), 202-203-0448 Debra DeShong Reed (Point Blank Public Affairs for PPFA), 202-528-4214 Andrea Hagelgans (PPFA), 212-261-4652

The National Women's Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women's legal rights. The Center focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including economic security, education, employment and health, with special attention given to the concerns of low-income women. For more information on the Center, visit: www.nwlc.org.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America is the nation's leading sexual and reproductive health care advocate and provider. We believe that everyone has the right to choose when or whether to have a child, and that every child should be wanted and loved. Planned Parenthood affiliates operate more than 860 health centers nationwide, providing medical services and sexuality education for millions of women, men, and teenagers each year. We also work with allies worldwide to ensure that all women and men have the right and the means to meet their sexual and reproductive health care needs.