Republicans and independents heavily favor contraception, sex ed

Opposition to contraception and support for abstinence-only sex ed are extreme minority positions, even among Republicans and Independents, according to a new survey by the National Women’s Law Center and the YWCA USA.* A couple of points:

* Nearly three-quarters (72%) of Republicans and Independents favor legislation that would make it easier for people at all income levels to obtain contraception, and 70 percent favor legislation that would help make birth control more affordable. More than 60 percent of fundamentalist/evangelical Protestants favor these proposals.

* Only 8 percent of Republicans and Independents think the government should support abstinence-only education. A strong majority of Independents (76%) and Republicans (62%) believe the government should support comprehensive sex education programs that include information about abstinence, as well as information about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases.

And yet for some reason, we’re still pretending in this country that pro-contraception and comprehensive sex ed policies are radical liberalism. If you’re a Republican who favors them, consider writing to your party’s leadership to ask them to represent you and the majority who believe as you do.

*The usual cautions about study design and sampling do apply, of course. I’ve written to ask for more information. These results are consistent with other polls I’ve seen, though.

7 thoughts to “Republicans and independents heavily favor contraception, sex ed”

  1. I believe I cautioned about that myself, right there in the post.

    Is it your contention that most Republicans and Independents are in favor of abstinence-only sex ed? Do you think most would approve of the types of programs I talked about in the previous post, which attempt to encourage abstaining from sexual activity by denigrating people who don’t?

    I’d guess that the 8% figure is on the low side, but the findings in general track with other polls showing overwhelming support among Americans (including Democrats, who are Americans too) for programs which encourage abstinence for teens *as part of comprehensive sex ed*.

  2. Well at risk of getting off topic, but related to the last post that I commented on: I rather resent that people assume that I take positions like this when they find out that I am pro-life. Opposing abortion has been so thoroughly wedded to religious conservatism that it is taken for granted that one position implies another: against abortion; against sex education; against gay marriage; against contraception; against teaching evolution.

    A combination of loud and confrontational evangelical pro-lifers and media savvy pro-choicers have ghettoized the movement. No moderate or left leaning young person can help but internalize a belief that being pro-life can make one an outcast. I’d like secular and liberal pro-lifers (like Nat Hentoff) to become much more visible and short circuit all of the assumptions people have about being pro-life by putting forth a position that can appeal to the cultural mainstream.

  3. A combination of loud and confrontational evangelical pro-lifers and media savvy pro-choicers have ghettoized the movement.

    Yes, there are two groups of people in whose interest it is to conflate contraception and abortion — people who are opposed to contraception, and people who are for abortion. The former, in particular, play right into the latter’s hands.

    I also resent that people assume I take a bunch of reactionary positions solely because I think that abortion is unjust violence against a human being. I used to feel like a bit of a victim in all this — “why won’t they acknowledge the good people like meeeeee?” But as I said in the “allies” post, it’s not about me. I think a more useful approach is to just get out there and work for justice, including confronting people who are nominally on “our side” when they take positions that hurt people. That’s a good thing to do in itself, and it will also have the positive side effect of showing people that opposition to abortion can fit into a modern, inclusive, compassionate worldview. People do judge an idea by who holds it, particularly on subjects they don’t know a lot about or don’t want to think a lot about (and I contend that we don’t have a pro-life majority or a pro-choice majority in this country, we have a “don’t like abortion much but don’t want to think about it” majority).

  4. >Hmmm. I never felt like a victim. I felt like most of the people who made this mistake were revealing that the open mindedness which they took pride in was showing itself to be something of a sham.

    >When you say “take positions that hurt people” are you referring to hurtful rhetoric or actual policies.

    >I should have added “supporting capital punishment” to the previous comment.

    >I think that your statement, “opposition to abortion can fit into a modern, inclusive, compassionate worldview”, is very interesting. It is not the sort of thing I am ever likely to say.

    Don’t get me wrong- I’m not trying to be critical. It just isn’t how my mind works. (In school, I really irritated my feminist friends because whenever the subject of feminist ethics and the Gilligan-Kohlberg debate would come up, I would invariably argue Kohlberg’s side.)

    At any rate, the difference between an emphasis on rules and universalizability versus an emphasis on compassion and relationships is a significant one. It reminds me that while I’d like to try to promote a pro-life perspective that reaches out to those who find the traditional approach unappealing, just moving from a religious to a secular perspective, or from a conservative to a left-leaning perspective, would be incomplete.

    Generating non-traditional pro-life memes in order to change the nature of the dialog is something that I have felt increasingly motivated to work toward recently, and I need to remember that people (like you I would imagine) whose approach is along the lines of that of Feminists for Life are essential to that objective.

    I wonder how many of the Feminists fro Life are non-believers :)

    The group that I’m hoping to bring together is supposed to be for non-theists.

  5. Ockraz,
    I am all for the gifts and arguments that nontheists can bring to prolife. In the public sphere, prolife needs to be as appealing to people of all faiths and none.

    But please remember–a lot of us prolifers who support contraception, comprehensive sex ed, LGBT justice, and other good things are people of faith. it’s important both for prolife nonbelievers to organize among yourselves–and to work with us.

  6. The debate has become polarized because of media-savvy people on both sides that dominated this argument for years. It has silenced many people who wanted a voice in the debate or on the issues and could not get published or included in conferences.

    I am pro-choice. Not too long ago, I tried to bring up the third-term issue and my wariness over simply flipping the law over in the Freedom of Choice act. I did this in a forum on-line. I was attacked by feminists, some of whom accused me of being an infiltrator and a far-right Christian fundamentalist. I should add that some of the feminists were open to debate and respectful as well.

    I believe that there are pro-life people who truly are pro-contraception and sex ed that espouse abstinence for teens as well as birth control information, and I think there are atheists who are pro-life. I believe there are religious people who are pro-choice as well, and still sincere in their religious faith…yet we hear Christians say that they cannot believe that Christians could be pro-choice. I am an atheist, but I know pro-choice Christians and they feel left out as well.

    My point of all of this is that I really think we need more conversations on these matters and to allow everyone an opinion without immediately dismissing them, or assuming things about them before there is evidence. I really believe the President opened a door for more conversation at his press conference, an opportunity to stop villifying each other and start listening to one another. It was hard to be attacked by other pro-choice people because I questioned the most radical of the liberal feminist positions on abortion, and of course name-calling is always a great way to silence others. But these incidents have given me more compassion for people who share complicated sets of beliefs that do not always fall into a specific category. I am glad to see a blog like this.

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