New Poll Shows Americans Strongly Oppose Mail-Order Abortions

National   |   Michael New Ph.D.   |   Feb 1, 2022   |   2:17PM   |   Washington, DC

As John McCormack has noted, a new Marist poll on abortion commissioned by the Knights of Columbus adds to a significant body of research finding that most Americans oppose taxpayer funding for abortion both at home and abroad.

While many survey research firms ask only infrequently about incremental pro-life laws, the annual KofC/Marist poll consistently finds public support for a range of incremental pro-life policy goals, including parental-involvement laws, conscience protections for health-care professionals, and gestational-age limits on abortion.

But this year’s Marist poll was unique because it was the first to ask about mail-order chemical-abortion drugs. The survey found that 63 percent of respondents oppose new Biden-administration FDA rules eliminating the requirement that women obtain chemical-abortion drugs in person from a medical professional, allowing them instead to obtain them through the mail without an in-person appointment.

That opposition to the new FDA rules was consistent across a wide range of demographic groups. Even 43 percent of self-identified Democrats and 42 percent of people who said they were “pro-choice” opposed the new FDA rules, suggesting that there is strong opposition to mail-order chemical-abortion drugs.

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In the coming years, preventing chemical abortions will be an important priority for pro-lifers. After years of decline, data from the CDC indicate that the abortion rate increased slightly in both 2018 and 2019. A key factor behind this increase was a significant increase in the number of chemical abortions. In fact, the number of chemical abortions increased by more than 10 percent in both 2018 and 2019. According to data from the Guttmacher Institute, the share of all abortions that were chemical abortions increased from 5 percent to 39 percent between 2001 and 2017. The new FDA rules will only serve to hasten that increase.

Additionally, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, many women seeking abortions in conservative states will attempt to obtain chemical-abortion drugs through the mail from other states. Educational efforts warning of the risks of chemical abortions, especially without an in-person medical exam, are certainly worthwhile. If a woman with an unknown ectopic pregnancy obtains a chemical abortion, it could prove fatal. If a woman obtaining a chemical abortion is further along in gestation than she realizes, it could likewise pose serious health consequences. Indeed, after the U.K. began allowing women to obtain chemical abortions via telemedicine in early 2020, researcher Kevin Duffy found that emergency calls for follow-up care after a chemical abortion increased by 54 percent, and ambulance responses rose by 19 percent.

Those educational efforts must be coupled with legislation at both the state and federal level. Pro-lifers must continue to craft legal and legislative strategies to prevent chemical-abortion drugs from being shipped through the mail. The good news from this recent poll is that such legislative efforts would likely enjoy strong public support.

LifeNews Note: Michael J. New is a Research Associate at the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America and is an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_J_New