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Majority of Voters in Three Swing States Oppose Efforts To Defund Planned Parenthood

Majority of Voters in Three Swing States Oppose Efforts To Defund Planned Parenthood

August 12, 2015 — Nearly 70% of voters in New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania oppose a push by lawmakers who do not support abortion rights to defund Planned Parenthood, according to a poll released by Planned Parenthood on Monday, The Hill reports.

According to The Hill, the three states are seen as battlegrounds in upcoming Senate elections (Ferris, The Hill, 8/10).

Background

An antiabortion-rights group called the Center for Medical Progress recently released a series of misleading videos targeting Planned Parenthood. The videos depict Planned Parenthood staff discussing fetal tissue donation. CMP secretly filmed the videos by meeting with Planned Parenthood staff while posing as buyers of fetal tissue.

Planned Parenthood has stated that the videos were heavily edited and that the filmed officials did not conduct any illegal activities. The organization said it does not profit from fetal tissue donations and only receives reimbursement for costs associated with such donations, which is legal. Meanwhile, supporters of Planned Parenthood said the videos are part of a decades-long campaign against the organization.

The Senate last week blocked legislation (S 1881) -- introduced in the wake of the videos -- that would have cut off more than $500 million in federal funding for Planned Parenthood. However, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said a government shutdown over the issue is unlikely, some lawmakers have suggested the defunding measure's failure could set up a fight over whether to include funding for Planned Parenthood in the federal budget this fall (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/7).

Poll Findings

The poll found that around 75% of respondents in the three states said they would oppose efforts by some conservative lawmakers to defund Planned Parenthood, which could cause the federal government to shut down. Further, the poll found that roughly 67% of voters would be less likely to vote for certain incumbent candidates if they support defunding Planned Parenthood, including Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president and chief experience officer at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said the data show conservative lawmakers' push to defund the organization will hurt their chances of getting re-elected (The Hill, 8/10).

Defunding Planned Parenthood Could Affect Millions of Low-Income U.S. Residents

Efforts "to defund Planned Parenthood ... failed [last] week, but the sentiment remains strong" among conservative lawmakers, and, should any defunding effort be successful, "research suggests some consequences," Francie Diep writes in a Pacific Standard opinion piece.

For example, Diep notes that defunding the organization "would affect a lot of patients, especially lower-income ones." She cites research from the Guttmacher Institute that found 2.4 million U.S. women and girls received contraceptives from Planned Parenthood clinics in 2010. Further, she notes, "In 2010, more than one in three women who received contraceptives from a publicly funded clinic, which offers at least some of their patients free or reduced-price care, did so at a Planned Parenthood."

She adds, "[Planned Parenthood's] data say that 42 percent of the services it provided in 2014 were for sexually transmitted infection screening and treatment; 34 percent were for contraception; ... nine percent were for cancer screening"; and 3% for abortion care. "Altogether, those services may account for millions more men, women, boys, and girls," she writes.

Further, Diep notes that defunding Planned Parenthood would "destabilize the progress the U.S. has made" in curbing the number of unintended pregnancies. She cites research from Guttmacher that found publicly funded clinics in 2010 averted 1.7 million [unintended] pregnancies, including 374,000 teenage pregnancies," which "saved taxpayers $7.6 billion." Diep explains that because "Planned Parenthood is a major player among publicly funded clinics, a sudden defunding could take a big chunk out of these numbers."

According to Diep, defunding the organization also "would create a large gap in reproductive care for lower-income patients." Citing Guttmacher data, Diep writes that while roughly 700 new publicly funded clinics opened in underserved areas throughout the country between 2001 and 2010, the number of U.S. residents receiving publicly funded contraceptive care remained mostly the same. Diep notes that discrepancy stems from other health clinics "serve so few people compared to city health departments and Planned Parenthood," suggesting that the publicly funded clinics "likely wouldn't be able to quickly make up for a 46 percent deficit in Planned Parenthood funding."

Lastly, Diep cites a recent poll that found 47% of U.S. residents said they oppose defunding efforts, compared with 42% who said they support defunding the organization (Diep, Pacific Standard, 8/10).