By: Kristan Hawkins, Executive Director, Students for Life of America
This June, Students for Life of America released the results of a nationwide study, in which we surveyed 805 18-24 year olds about the upcoming 2012 election, unconstitutional HHS Mandate, and abortion. We knew that a lot of folks tend to try to put young people in a neat little box when it comes to the issue of abortion, but, with this rising generation, we knew we had to shed some light into how they are really thinking and the changing of this debate.
The Good News…
Their whole lives this generation has been told that identifying themselves as “pro-life” is judgmental, extremist, and wrong. Yet, when asked questions about their beliefs on the legality of abortion: 44% were pro-life and 45% pro-choice, and they were more likely to view abortion as a “bad thing” (31%) rather than a “good thing” (17%). In the addition, the plurality, 27%, selected “abortion should only be legal in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother” as the position most similar to own position on abortion.
This generation is not radical in their support of abortion and takes much more of a common sense approach to the issue than President Obama and Planned Parenthood with an overwhelming majority favoring common sense abortion regulations:
- 89% favored requiring abortionists to follow the same medical and safety protocols as other surgical clinics
- 84% favored requiring abortion facilities to warn women of seeking abortions of potential health risks
- 76% favored allowing pregnant women to view sonograms before undergoing an abortion
- 74% support making sex-selection abortions illegal in United States
- 70% agreed with offering a woman the opportunity to anesthetize her child before the abortion procedure
We are winning the HHS Mandate issue. When young Americans were asked whether the federal government should force institutions to pay for procedures that offend their religious beliefs, the plurality (44%) disagreed with the Obama’s administration’s move.
The Bad News…
We need to educate this generation more on what conscience protections are and who is permitted to have them. The youth surveyed were split on whether medical students should be permitted to object to procedures or drugs for conscience reasons, although this age group was 8 points more likely to agree (44%) than disagree (36%).
What they don’t know is literally killing this generation as 58% admitted that they didn’t know where resources were in their community or campus to support a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy who didn’t want to undergo an abortion.
Planned Parenthood still has the upper-hand when it comes to targeting and deceiving this generation. Our study found that young people supported Planned Parenthood by a ratio of six to one (66% “favorable” vs. 11% “unfavorable”), with two in five (40%) calling themselves “strongly favorable.” The plurality of even those who identify as Conservative (44%) and Pro-Life (46%) were even “favorable” towards Planned Parenthood. Even more shocking for those of in the pro-life movement is that fact that 48% said they did not know whether or not Planned Parenthood offered abortions.
The controversial “morning-after” pill appears to have been accepted by the majority of 18-24 year olds. Three in five (60% ) even believe that the medication should be available via vending machines, meaning no human interaction or counseling would be needed before obtaining it. Support for Plan B in vending machines and the high percentage of Planned Parenthood supporters who are unaware of the organization’s abortion services suggest that this generation is “Pro-Contraception,” but not necessarily “Pro-Abortion.”
Where we Must Focus our Attention….
In the study, respondents’ favorability towards Planned Parenthood was a strong indicator of whether they believed the organization to be an abortion provider. Those who were unfavorable towards Planned Parenthood were much more likely than its supporters to know about their abortion services (69% to 40%). If we are going to succeed in putting the abortion Goliath out of business, defunding taxpayer money and reducing market demand, we must step up our efforts to educate Planned Parenthood’s clientele about their deceptive business model.
Only 9% of survey respondents selected President Obama’s and Planned Parenthood’s position on abortion as their own stating that “abortion should be allowed at any time during a woman’s pregnancy and for any reason.” We must expose the President’s radical view on abortion, as simply that…before November.
When asked what resources would compel pregnant women to carry their unintended pregnancies to term, support from families, support from the child’s father, ability to continue to work or go to school, help with child care, information about adoption, and scholarships to help with financial demands were all chosen more than 50% of the time by study respondents. These figures along with the fact that 58% of young people admitted that they didn’t know where resources where in their community or campus to support a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy who didn’t want an abortion tells us we must do a better job of reaching out to the most vulnerable demographic, college-aged women, and telling them what resources and support structures exist for them and their children.
In order to abolish abortion in our lifetime, we need to make sure the trend towards becoming pro-life continues for this generation, making sure they understand current abortion laws, continue to see ultrasound images bringing the humanity of the pre-born front and center, and raising up the voices of those who regret their abortions.
The pro-abortion movement sees this generational shift away from tolerating surgical abortion and has increasingly been investing their time into promoting abortions earlier in pregnancy and pills to end the life of the pre-born child. We must step up our work talking about the abortion-causing mechanisms and serious health risks to women in drugs like Plan B and Ella that the FDA has falsely labeled as mere contraception.
The plurality (42%) of those interviewed, including every major demographic and geographic groups, said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supports forcing institutions to pay for procedures that violate their conscience or religious beliefs. And when talking to young people about the HHS mandate, raising the unintended consequences of the mandate – such as religious organizations dropping healthcare entirely or being able to only hire only employees of a particular faith – were persuasive in changing the minds of young Americans on this constitutional issue. Hispanics and political moderates, groups that usually favor the political left, show real hesitation toward the HHS Mandate. We must educate this generation about the Obama administration’s unconstitutional HHS Mandate and how it effects real Americans.
In 2010, NARAL/Pro-Choice America’s own poll of 700 youth found that 51% of pro-lifers under 30 called abortion a “very important” voting issue, compared with only 26% of those in the same age group who were pro-abortion. When announcing her retirement in 2012 as NARAL/Pro-Choice America’s President, Nancy Keenan cited this important study saying her departure from the pro-abortion organization will help foster a new generation of pro-abortion young leaders.
I’ve got news for Nancy Kennan, she can retire and so can Cecile Richards and every other pro-abortion leader, because that won’t raise a new generation of pro-abortion leaders. The humanity of the pre-born child has been brought to the forefront of the debate. And while we still have a long way to go to expose, promote, and educate in our movement, the simple fact is that being pro-abortion is going out of style, being pro-life is in. And if Students for Life of America has anything to do it with it, Nancy’s organization and others like it won’t be around for too much longer.