Republicans are drastically out of touch with how most Americans feel about abortion
A new national survey shows 70 percent of Americans oppose Republicans’ attempts to defund Planned Parenthood as part of their repeal of the Affordable Healthcare Act, known as Obamacare.
The survey, conducted in December by the nonpartisan research firm PerryUndem, asked 1,302 men and women from across the political spectrum how they feel about efforts to take away Planned Parenthood funds that go toward birth control, low-cost cancer screenings, and general reproductive healthcare. The opposition to this was widespread and bipartisan — 50 percent of Trump voters also said they disagreed.
While Planned Parenthood uses no federal funds to conduct abortions, nearly two-thirds of Americans — 63 percent — said they support protecting a woman’s right to an abortion and 85 percent said they support ensuring access to quality, affordable birth control.
Republicans have made gutting Planned Parenthood a key part of their healthcare agenda, but the study shows a gap between the attitudes held by the American public and the policies being pursued by the Republican-led Congress.
The researchers said the numbers showed a “consensus” on women’s health issues not reflected in the current political debate. “Republican leadership in Congress is out of step with the vast majority of voters on issues around defunding Planned Parenthood and abortion,” the authors wrote.
House Speaker Paul Ryan declined to say whether the Republican replacement to Obamacare would also protect free birth control coverage, dismissing it as a “nitty-gritty detail.” According to the survey, 61 percent of Americans oppose getting rid of that part of the law.
President-elect Trump promised to appoint a Supreme Court judge who was staunchly anti-abortion to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Antonin Scalia nearly a year ago, and Vice President-elect Mike Pence has promised that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, “would be consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.”
But according to the survey, 67 percent of Americans say they do not support naming a judge based solely on his or her anti-abortion beliefs.
The issue of women’s reproductive healthcare, especially abortion, has been at the forefront of Republicans’ agenda for years. The effort to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood was a part of intense budget fights in 2011 and nearly caused the government to shut down in 2015.
But public support for abortion and access to birth control hasn’t really wavered in decades. Since the 1970s, polls routinely show the majority of voters support the right to abortion and the existence of Planned Parenthood.
Tuesday’s survey also examined how Trump’s comments and behavior toward women impacted his favorability ratings. It found that the No. 1 predictor of unfavorability toward the president-elect, next to party identification, was whether you were upset by his comments about women.
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