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The People Behind Gallup's Polls

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Written by Kate Childs Graham for RHRealityCheck.org - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

In order to fully understand any polling data, we have to understand who the numbers are about. Last week, Gallup released polling data that showed a drop in support for legal abortion among young adults ages 18 to 29. Although young people still show the highest level of support for abortion across the generations, this drop is concerning. However, we must look past the numbers to uncover why young people are expressing lower levels of support for abortion and how we might better engage them in the future.

Today’s young people were the unfortunate beneficiaries of eight years of funding and support for abstinence-only education. As a result, those in their late teens and twenties experience the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancies. But the detrimental impact extends well beyond STIs and pregnancies.

For the most part, abstinence-only education either does not make mention about abortion rights and services or casts these rights and services in a bad light. And so, young people have not received accurate information they need to make informed decisions about their own lives or create informed opinions about matters of reproductive justice.

One of Choice USA’s young activists from Kentucky put it best: “I feel that I was short-changed in sex education because I was taught abstinence-only-until-marriage and that just doesn’t apply to everyone.”

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