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Elections & Politics

GOP Presidentials' Attacks on Women’s Health Far Out of the Mainstream

Contact: Planned Parenthood Action Fund Media Office, 212-261-4433

For Immediate Release: 10.07.11

To:       Interested Parties

Date:   October 7, 2011

Re:      GOP Presidentials' Attacks on Women’s Health Far Out of the Mainstream

Today and tomorrow, at the Values Voter Summit, Americans will get a firsthand look at the real priorities of the GOP presidential candidates as they talk about barring Planned Parenthood from providing preventive health care through federal programs, cutting off access to birth control and cancer screenings, and overturning Roe v. Wade.  

It is important to remember these positions are far out of the mainstream, and opposed by a majority of Americans.

Planned Parenthood health centers are trusted nonprofit health care providers to which one in five women has turned at some point in her life for preventive health care and information, including birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, STD testing, and annual exams.

Multiple polls show majority support for Planned Parenthood, especially among young and female voters, who are critical to the 2012 elections. 

  • Gallup poll:  57 percent of voters oppose “a law prohibiting health clinics that provide abortion services from receiving any federal funds.” (Gallup, 7/25/11)
  • CNN poll:  65 percent of voters “think the federal government should continue to provide funding to Planned Parenthood.” This includes 68 percent of women and 58 percent of independents. (CNN.com, 4/11/11)
  • Quinnipiac poll:  Voters opposed “cutting off federal government funding to Planned Parenthood” by a margin of 53 percent to 43 percent.  Opposition was even stronger among 18- to 34-year-olds (66 percent) and self-described moderates (60 percent). (Quinnipiac University, 3/3/2011)
  • NBC/WSJ poll:  53 percent of respondents — and 60 percent of 18- to 49-year-old women — found it “mostly or totally unacceptable” to “eliminate funding to Planned Parenthood for family planning and preventive health services.” (NBC/Wall Street Journal, 3/3/2011)

In addition, Roe v. Wade is the consensus position supported by a majority of Americans for the past 40 years.

Even Republican strategists agree that attacking Planned Parenthood is bad politics.

Republican strategist Mark McKinnon:  Planned Parenthood litmus test “send[s] a terrible message to independent voters the GOP needs in order to win.”  Politico reports, “The idea of Planned Parenthood’s funding as a Republican litmus test does not sit well with all of the party’s strategists, some of whom worry it will drive away the exact constituencies that the party needs to win in 2012. ‘It would send a terrible message to independent voters the GOP needs in order to win,’ said Republican strategist Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to John McCain, now at Public Strategies.” (Politico, 6/8/11)

McKinnon:  Pushing this issue is “tone deaf.”  Politico reports, “‘Federal policy already restricts use of Planned Parenthood funds for abortion, so if GOP candidates push this issue it would be perceived as tone deaf and intolerant to important electoral constituencies,’ McKinnon said.” [Politico, 6/8/11]

Republican pollster Tyler Harber:  Republicans risk “suburban backlash” among “soccer moms.” National Journal reports, “Even some Republicans are concerned about how the debate is being framed.  ‘It’s a huge issue, and it’s a double-edged sword in a couple of ways,’ said Tyler Harber, a GOP pollster at the Prosper Group.  He said that as the dispute emerges as a campaign issue, it would help both parties to motivate their bases.  But Harber warned that there could be a suburban backlash for the GOP.  ‘The socially moderate white soccer moms … are not going to see this as an abortion issue,’ he said.  ‘The Republican side risks alienating these voters who are fiscally conservative and socially moderate.’” (National Journal, 6/2/11)

So, while the GOP presidential candidates pander to the Tea Party Republicans and attack women’s health this weekend, they do so at the risk of losing independent voters in the general election.

 

THE FACTS:  POLITICAL ATTACKS ON PLANNED PARENTHOOD

As GOP presidential candidates continue to demagogue Planned Parenthood, we want to make sure you have the facts about their support for proposals to bar Planned Parenthood from providing preventive health care, including birth control, cancer screenings, and STD testing and treatment, through federal programs.

Barring nonprofit Planned Parenthood health centers from federal programs would cut off preventive health care for millions of women who need it the most.  These proposals would prevent Planned Parenthood health centers from providing birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, annual exams, and other preventive care to millions of women whose health care is covered by Medicaid and other public health coverage programs.  Of the three million people served in Planned Parenthood health centers each year, two million participate in some federal health program.

More than 90 percent of the health care Planned Parenthood health centers provide is preventive.  Last year, Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses carried out nearly one million screenings for cervical cancer and 830,000 breast exams.  Planned Parenthood health centers also provide affordable birth control to nearly 2.5 million patients, and nearly four million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV testing for women and men.  Planned Parenthood doctors, nurses, and other health professionals have provided health care to tens of millions of women since 1916, 95 years ago.

Planned Parenthood’s federal funding goes toward basic health care.  Like other health care providers, Planned Parenthood health centers receive government grants and reimbursements, such as Medicaid, to provide preventive health care.  The federal funds Planned Parenthood health centers receive pay only for cancer screenings, birth control, family planning visits, annual exams, testing for HIV and other STDs, and other basic care.

Seventy-three percent of Planned Parenthood health centers are in rural or medically underserved areas.  Planned Parenthood health centers provide primary and preventive health care to many who otherwise would have nowhere to turn. According to the Guttmacher Institute, six in ten patients who receive care at a family planning health center like Planned Parenthood consider it their main source of health care.

  • The Hartford Courant quotes a local health care provider saying, "Defunding Planned Parenthood would be the moral equivalent of turning off the electricity and a whole segment of health care would go dark.... There just is no other capacity in Connecticut for what Planned Parenthood provides."
  • The Alaska Daily News writes, “Without Planned Parenthood [in some parts of Alaska], options for low-income women are limited…. As to other clinics absorbing Planned Parenthood's patients, that would be a challenge, said Joan Fisher, executive director of Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center. The community health center — the only one in Anchorage — couldn't take on hundreds of new patients, she said. ‘Will they be able to get in? No, probably not. Then what will happen? They won't be on birth control. They won't get their paps. They might get pregnant. Then what are you going to do?’”

Dishonest attacks on Planned Parenthood have been discredited.  Live Action, the extreme political organization behind several secret videos targeting Planned Parenthood health centers, has been widely discredited for manipulating videos to create misimpressions about Planned Parenthood.  The Huffington Post took a close look at the Live Action videos and found that “thorough, frame-by-frame reviews of the full-length videos show that what is posted on YouTube often bears little relation to what happened in reality, due to heavy editing that alters the meaning of conversations.” Media Matters, the Los Angeles Times, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and the Roanoke Times have all reported on Live Action’s deceptive editing of videos.

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.