A new national poll shows only 16 percent of women believe abortion generally makes women’s lives better.

Furthermore, among women who describe themselves as “pro-choice,” less than 30 percent believe abortion generally improves women’s lives.

The poll results reflect a reality long misunderstood by politicians on both sides of the abortion debate, contends David C. Reardon, director of the Elliot Institute, a conservative research and education think tank that published the survey along with other study results.

“At least one of every four women voters has had an abortion, and most of these women consider it to be an ugly, painful memory,” he said. “Most have many regrets about their abortions, even if they believe it to have been their ‘only choice.’ This is why they don’t support the radical agenda of pro-abortion special interest groups. They’ve been there, done that, and hated it.”

The poll shows 67 percent of pro-choice women stated they would be “more likely to vote for a candidate who calls for government support for grief counseling programs to assist women who experience emotional problems after an abortion.”

The Elliot Institute is publishing these results and others in a new pocket guide they hope will be widely adopted by pro-life politicians called “Reversing the Gender Gap: Touch the Hearts, Earn the Trust, and Win the Votes of 30 Million Post-Abortive Women.”

Reardon promotes an alternative to the traditional pro-life message he calls a “pro-woman/pro-life” approach. He insists this will help break down the stereotype that pro-lifers are judgmental and condemning.

He says the national polling data and his studies of post-abortive women show most women would be glad to be rid of abortion, but only if it can be done in a way that helps women. They generally do not support easier access to abortion, federal funding for abortion, or the nomination of federal judges who will strike down abortion regulations.

But they do want politicians to show they understand the pressures women face, Reardon asserted.

“Generally, what post-abortive women are looking for in others is understanding and compassion,” he said. “But while on one hand they can no longer swallow the pro-abortionists’ argument that abortion is a good thing, they also fear that anyone who readily condemns abortion is also ready to condemn them.”

Pro-life candidates must directly address an “inherent fear of judgment,” he said, “acknowledge the pressures women feel to have abortions and offer positive solutions.”

“This message will not only neutralize the gender gap, it will reverse it,” said Reardon. “Post-abortive women are yearning to have their pain, loss, and regrets understood and respected. While they recoil from judgment, they are attracted to authentic concern and compassion.”

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