The Generation Gap in Abortion Support.

A new Gallup poll shows that young people's support for abortion has fallen. Only about a quarter of people aged 18 to 29 support access to abortion for any reason and without restriction. Though that's bigger than the number of older Americans who support abortion without caveat, the gap is narrowing. But more disturbingly, that age group was more likely than any other to say abortion should be illegal under any circumstances.

Choice USA, a nonprofit that supports abortion rights, attributes a lot of the gap to abstinence-only education. It has been decades since the federal government has affirmatively supported full sex education, and I'm sure that has helped make attitudes more conservative.

But it also must be related to a sense of complacency. It's been a long time since many women have been outright denied an abortion, or died trying to have one illegally. Middle- and upper-class women have access, and organizations like Planned Parenthood provide needed services of all kinds in poorer communities. Very poor, rural communities suffer the most, and continue to suffer as anti-abortion advocates chip away at access.

In a statement, Kierra Johnson, executive director of Choice USA, says that the growing anti-abortion attitude means that we need to talk about reproductive health issues more, to remove the social stigma for support. The abortion debate often gets caught up in emotions that do little to help women get more access. The biggest hope I have for the health-care reform bill, which also hurts the cause of expanding access to abortion, is that it will empower more young women to take control of their health care in general.

-- Monica Potts

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