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Poll: Reproductive rights for women ‘is a winning issue for Democrats’

Crystal Graham
abortion rights
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The defining issue of the 2024 presidential election may hinge on women’s rights after the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and what many see as an ongoing assault on women’s reproductive freedoms.

The decision by the court removed the legal right of women to an abortion, and instead, threw the decision to each individual state as to whether to restrict access to an abortion.

With 50 years of legal precedent out the window, a large number of women wondered what might be in the political crosshairs next: In vitro fertilization? Birth control? It turns out their fears, our fears, were justified.

The next domino to fall in women’s reproductive rights, or lack thereof, happened last week in Alabama, and the fallout may ultimately alienate some Republican voters in November’s election and energize others to go to the polls, a recent poll shows.

In Alabama, the Supreme Court ruled that embryos created through IVF should be considered children, and by doing so, allowed a wrongful death lawsuit to move forward.

As a result of the ruling, clinics offering IVF throughout Alabama have paused treatment and effectively put starting a family on hold for hundreds of couples while the implications of the court’s decision are fully understood.

The question now is whether the ruling will force clinics in other states to stop treatment due to the financial risk associated with the ruling. Legislators across the country, and in Alabama, are scrambling to put together legislation to guarantee women and families the right to fertility treatments. Even if new laws are passed, some families fear that clinics will still question who has authority in the matter: the Supreme Court or legislators and may continue to pause treatments until the matter is further clarified.

State and national legislators have also introduced bills to more generally support a woman’s basic right to contraception including birth control pills and devices; “Plan B” emergency contraceptives; and even, in some bills, fertility treatments.

In Virginia’s 2024 General Assembly, Republican legislators, almost in their entirety, shot down bills aimed to protect a women’s rights to contraception.

All 19 Republicans in the Senate voted against the bill. In the House, 43 Republicans voted against a similar bill that was introduced.

It turns out, when it comes to the thought that women should have the right to make their own choices when it comes to contraceptives, Republican lawmakers are out of step with what voters actually want. A new poll shows that Republican, Independent and Democratic voters are strongly in favor of measures to protect the reproductive freedoms of women.

A nationwide poll of likely voters from Impact Research showed broad support for The Right to Contraception Act with 81 percent of likely voters having a favorable view of the bill and with three-fifths of those surveyed strongly in favor of it.

The support for the bill comes from Democrats (94 percent in favor), Independents (76 percent in favor) and Republicans (68 percent in favor) with both men (78 percent in favor) and women (84 percent in favor).

More than three-quarters of the voters polled have used a form of contraception, and the majority of voters support birth control (84 percent) including emergency contraception (67 percent).

The survey also showed that Americans (88 percent) don’t want government interference in their right to make decisions about contraception. Voters (61 percent) said they are concerned the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn the constitutional right to contraception.

A majority of voters also said they would be much less likely to support Republicans in Congress if they vote against The Right to Contraception Act.

The survey concluded that protecting access to contraception “is a winning issue for Democrats.” The survey found that the issue will likely motivate key demographics, including Black and young voters, to turn out at the polls in November.

“The Republican Party has so underestimated the way the country has changed,” Karen Finney, a longtime abortion rights activist, told The New York Times.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin learned the hard way that voters in the Commonwealth didn’t support his views on abortion. Democrats won the majorities in the General Assembly after running in large part on the issue of reproductive freedoms. Youngkin had been in favor of a 15-week abortion ban but had been vocal saying he would support any bill related to abortion that landed on his desk.

“This election sends a message to any politician who wants to get between patients and their healthcare provider: a ban is a ban is a ban,” said Jennifer McClellan, the Democratic congressman from the Fourth District, and long-time state delegate and state senator, after the 2023 election. “Voters do not want their reproductive rights restricted or politicians interfering in their healthcare decisions, and we will stand up to stop any politician who tries to do so.”

Impact Research partnered with Americans for Contraception to conduct the national survey of likely voters between Feb. 2-8.

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.