For continuing coverage of how COVID-19 is affecting reproductive health, check out our Special Report.
Using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to suspend abortion rights is widely unpopular. Not even Republicans are into it.
Sixty-five percent of registered voters polled between May 8 to May 13 for Navigator, a left-leaning public opinion research organization, said they don’t think lawmakers should fighting over or restricting access to “time-sensitive reproductive care.”
Banning abortion as a response to the pandemic is unpopular among self-identified Democrats and independents: 79 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of independents said reproductive health care should not be restricted. Meanwhile, 51 percent of Republicans disagreed with restricting abortion services during the pandemic.
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Only 21 percent of overall respondents—and 33 percent of Republicans—supported anti-abortion COVID-19 policies.
“This poll illustrates that the American public stands on the side of reproductive freedom and that anti-choice politicians’ attempts to ban abortion during a global pandemic are not only unpopular, they’re also politically stupid,” Amanda Thayer, a spokesperson for NARAL Pro-Choice America, told Rewire.News.
“As our country grapples with how to address this public health emergency, the majority of voters—even a majority of Republicans—oppose using the COVID-19 pandemic to undermine reproductive freedom and restrict access to healthcare women need,” Thayer added. “Now, more than ever, medical care should be determined by science—not an ideological agenda that threatens the health and safety of millions of people.”
Reproductive rights groups like NARAL have created digital ad campaigns that criticize anti-abortion efforts during the pandemic. Planned Parenthood Action Fund, meanwhile, is running ads in 11 battleground states to highlight access to reproductive health care.
Some lockdown orders issued by state officials in the first days of the COVID-19 outbreak classified abortion as an “elective” procedure that could be delayed, effectively banning abortion in at least seven states. The abortion bans, all implemented by Republican governors, were challenged in the courts, with conservative judges approving bans like the one in Texas.
In early April, Republican attorneys general across the country signaled they’d defend COVID-19 abortion bans when they signed on to an amicus brief supporting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) pandemic policy suspending abortion care. Before the pandemic, no state had more than 23 percent support for total bans on abortion, according to a 2019 poll by nonpartisan research organization Public Religion Research Institute.
While COVID-19 abortion bans have largely been lifted as states slowly reopen, Arkansas’ onerous requirement that patients test negative for COVID-19 before having an abortion remains in place despite lawsuits against the state.
Navigator’s recent polling falls in line with public opinion research, which found that anti-abortion policies like near-total abortion bans have little support in the United States—when people actually know what the polices do.