Several states in America, including Texas, Kentucky, Oklahama and Idaho have come up with laws restricting and in some cases criminalising forms of abortion care. However, the question that gains relevance is how far are the Americans familiar with abortion?
In the latest poll, the YouGoy found that Americans are more unfamiliar with medication abortion and its safety than they are with surgical abortion. However, they are more likely to support than oppose several ways to make abortion more accessible.
The YouGov survey found that the perceptions about access to abortion differed across regions. People in the South (36%), especially those in Texas (547), are more likely than Americans overall (24%) to say it would be difficult to access abortion care services near where they live. Americans living in the Northeast (12%) and West (20%), including New York (17%), and California (17%) are less likely to say it is difficult to access an abortion in their area.
About 67 per cent of the Americans say a woman should be allowed to have an abortion if her doctor agrees to it. Meanwhile, 33 per cent say she should not be allowed even if her doctor agrees. A significant share of people who support abortion restrictions in other contexts agree that the decision should be between a woman and her doctor. Even 40 per cent of people who say that abortion should only be legal in special circumstances, like if the woman’s life is in danger, agree that a woman should be allowed to get an abortion if her doctor agrees.
With restrictions on abortions tightened in many states, medication abortion has become more common. The survey says that though it was approved by the FDA in 2000, it remains highly regulated and relatively unknown. The survey found only 17 per cent of women saying they have heard a lot about it, including 23% of adult women under 45.
The lack of familiarity with the abortion pill also means lack of information about its safety. To differentiate medication abortion from emergency contraception (which it is often confused with), the YouGov asked two questions if safety of medication abortion and emergency contraception were different things. About the same share of Americans said that medication abortion is unsafe (19%) as say that surgical abortion (19%) and emergency contraception (14%) are unsafe. However, Americans are less likely to say medication abortion is safe (36%) relative to surgical abortion (61%) and emergency contraception (51%). Instead, they are significantly more likely to say they are “not sure” about the safety of medication abortion (46%) relative to the other two options (34% for emergency contraception and 21% for surgical abortion).
Most Americans are not aware that medication abortion is now the most common method of ending a pregnancy. When asked how abortions are most often performed in the US, Americans most often say surgical abortion (38%), followed by “not sure” (28%), about the same (20%), and, finally, medication.
They are about as likely to support (40%) as to oppose (38%) allowing doctors to prescribe abortion medication online through telehealth. Americans are somewhat more likely to support (42%) than to oppose (37%) allowing abortion medication to be mailed to patients who have been prescribed it. More people also support (45%) than oppose (34%) companies covering travel costs for employees who have to go out of state for abortions due to restrictions in their own state. A slightly larger of Americans share support (42%) than oppose (35%) including abortion as part of basic health insurance coverage
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