Anti-choice Politicians Beware: Large Majority Strongly Opposes Republican Leadership’s “Plans” for Women


One thing you’ve heard over and over from politicians on the right in this month after the election is how focused they plan to be on jobs and the economy.

One thing you might not have heard so much about: While the new Republican House leadership has failed to articulate an economic strategy beyond “cut, cut, cut” and “make the rich richer,” they have a long list of bills they want to pass to restrict women’s health and rights.

Voters say: Not so fast.

A survey funded by Planned Parenthood Federation of America and conducted by Hart Research shows that large majorities of voters–including those who voted Republican or Tea Party in the last election–are strongly against proposed attacks on women’s health and rights.

The survey was conducted among 802 registered voters between November 5th and 8th, 2010. It measured support for and opposition to the GOP leadership’s policy proposals on women’s health, which come in part from the GOP’s “Pledge to America.”   Specifically, the GOP “Pledge to America” calls for “a government-wide prohibition on taxpayer funding of abortion and subsidies for insurance coverage that includes abortion.”

Key findings from the survey included:

  • Seventy one (71) percent of voters are against cutting federal funding for preventive health services at Planned Parenthood health centers around the country (including 60 percent of voters who voted for the Republican candidate for Congress in 2010).
  • Eighty-Eight (88) percent of voters support comprehensive sex education for teens which includes information and training on abstinence as well as birth control and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.  These findings comport with those in earlier surveys.
  • Seventy-five (75) percent of voters support policies to reduce unintended pregnancies through greater access to birth control.
  • Seventy-seven (77) percent of voters disagree with making abortion illegal, including in cases of rape or incest.  Sixty-eight (68) percent of those who voted for the Republican candidate for Congress in 2010 also disagreed.
  • Seventy-four (74) percent of voters disagree with making women who choose to purchase private health insurance with their own money pay higher taxes if that includes abortion coverage (including 71 percent of voters who voted for the Republican candidate for Congress in 2010). 

“Unlike the new leadership in the House, the vast majority of American voters clearly support taking proactive steps to prevent unintended and teen pregnancy, such as providing real sex education to young people and making birth control affordable and available,” said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

“The incoming leadership of the House should take heed that Americans clearly don’t want their elected officials imposing new ideological restrictions on women’s health and rights.”

The survey results confirmed that even Republican voters in the midterm election overwhelmingly oppose the GOP leadership’s restrictive agenda on women’s health, said Planned Parenthood in a statement, “making it very clear that the results of the election were in no way a mandate to roll back the clock on providing comprehensive sex education, making birth control affordable and available, and maintaining a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy through abortion.”  This polling follows recent media reports indicating that some “small government” conservative and Tea Party activists are urging GOP leaders not to pursue social issues as part of their legislative agenda.

In a similar vein, the Hart Research poll also shows that voters overwhelmingly trust Planned Parenthood over Sarah Palin when it comes to women’s health issues; and that a strong majority of voters view Planned Parenthood as being “in step” with them on sexual and reproductive health issues.

When asked, “When it comes to women’s health issues, who do you trust more to represent your own views on these issues–Planned Parenthood or Sarah Palin?” voters selected Planned Parenthood by a 30 point margin over Sarah Palin (54–24). That number rises to a 36 point margin among women voters (58–22); and a 46 point margin among independent women (58–12).

“Americans trust Planned Parenthood because they know Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses across the country provide preventive health care to three million Americans a year, including annual exams, lifesaving cancer screenings, and contraception, and one in five American women has been cared for at a Planned Parenthood health center at some point in her life,” said Richards. “Americans know that Planned Parenthood stands up for their health care needs and their families every day in communities throughout the country.”

The poll also found that Planned Parenthood is recognized by a strong majority (59 percent) of voters as being “in step” with their views on reproductive health issues such as sex education, birth control, and abortion. With only 26 percent of voters describing Planned Parenthood as being “out of step,” Planned Parenthood enjoys a 33 point net positive rating on these issues.  In contrast, voters have much less trust in Sarah Palin on reproductive health issues. Forty-three percent of voters say Sarah Palin is “out of step” with their views, while 31 percent say she is “in step,” for a 12 point net negative rating.

“Simply put, Sarah Palin is out of step with the vast majority of Americans when it comes to sexual and reproductive health issues,” said Richards. “Planned Parenthood is by far a more trusted leader.”

Current federal policy already bans federal funds for abortion, but individuals can use their own money to purchase the health coverage they want, including abortion coverage. To implement the GOP pledge on abortion, Congress would have to drastically rewrite federal tax code and restrict a series of popular tax benefits for purchasing private health insurance coverage. This would result in higher taxes for Americans who choose to purchase private health insurance with their own money if their plans include abortion coverage.

For instance, if the GOP pledge were implemented, individuals and small businesses would be prohibited from receiving tax benefits simply because their health insurance includes abortion coverage, a common benefit in a majority of private health plans. Small businesses may be prohibited from claiming a tax deduction on providing health insurance to their employees that includes abortion coverage.  Moreover, individuals could not use their own money set aside in a health savings account to pay for an abortion.

This proposal is so out of the mainstream, said PPFA, that nearly three-quarters of voters (74 percent) disagree with making anyone who chooses to purchase private health insurance with their own money to pay higher taxes if that policy includes abortion coverage.

The second GOP leadership policy proposal to defund Planned Parenthood comes from Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), who has repeatedly called for this defunding, despite the fact that millions of women across the United States rely on Planned Parenthood health centers for their primary and preventive health care, including annual exams, lifesaving cancer screenings, contraception visits, and testing and treatments for sexually transmitted infections.

This proposal also meets with strong voter opposition with 71 percent of voters disagree with cutting federal funding for preventive health services at Planned Parenthood health centers around the country, including 60 percent of voters who voted for the Republican candidate for Congress in 2010.

More than ninety percent of the care Planned Parenthood health centers offer is preventive, and every year Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses carry out nearly one million screenings for cervical cancer and more than 825,000 breast exams, and provide contraception to nearly 2.5 million patients and more than 3.5 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

“One in five American women has received care from a Planned Parenthood health center at some point in her life, underscoring the fact that Planned Parenthood is an essential community health provider in America,” said Richards. “If Representative Pence is successful in his effort to defund Planned Parenthood, millions of women will lose access to their main source of basic preventive health care.”

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

To schedule an interview with contact director of communications Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

Follow Jodi Jacobson on twitter: @jljacobson

  • ack

    This poll validates previous polls indicating that the Republican win wasn’t about social issues; it was about the economy. And while anti-choice legislators see this as an opportunity to attack women’s reproductive health programs, their constituents are more interested in what they’ll do to decrease unemployment. If they are seen as wasting valuable time on social issues, particularly ones that generally have broad support, hopefully the voters in their districts will make themselves heard!

  • equalist

    The problem and the question is, is it too late?  Now that they’re already in a position of power, are they going to ignore the desires of their constituants and push ahead with their own agenda, as we’ve seen the republicans do before? 

  • catseye71352

    It has been business as usual. We have ZERO reason to expect anything different.