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Juan Williams and Robert Costa Warn of Political Peril As Republicans Threaten to Shut Down the Government and Get Pushed Further to the Right on Planned Parenthood and Women’s Health

Washington, DC — Today, onFox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, commentator Juan Williams noted that the majority of American voters not only support Planned Parenthood and the health care the nonprofit provides, but that there is a political price to pay over calls to shut down the government in an attempt to block millions from accessing basic, reproductive health care.

He and commentator Robert Costa also warned that as Ted Cruz and others on the far right continue to try and build momentum toward the unpopular notion of defunding Planned Parenthood and a government shutdown, they will push Republicans further away from the mainstream, and into a more and more unpopular position with the majority of the American people.


Robert Costa:  I checked in with my sources on Capitol Hill and they say come fall this could become a boil. Because Congress comes back, Senator Cruz, so many conservatives want to see perhaps a defunding fight, and that could lead to a Government shutdown, and that could lead into the 2016 race. Governor Huckabee, Carson, every conservative who’s looking to win Iowa, they’re going to rally to this as well. And for a party that wanted to gently avoid social issues for the most part, now they will be front and center because of Planned Parenthood.


Juan Williams:There’s no moving away from Planned Parenthood or women. If you look at the polls directly, you see it’s 54 percent of Americans support Planned Parenthood, want Planned Parenthood to continue in terms of contraception, disease prevention, and the like. But when you get into it in terms of the politics, this is where it becomes more intriguing, because I think that you can stir the Republican base but what happens when you threaten to shut down the Government, you’ve seen that story before, it doesn’t work out well, and I think you are, as Bob was suggesting, we are moving forward, there’s such excitement in the Republican base about these videos, and it’s not just one more video to come, I think there’s a series of videos to come, and this will continue to steam, and the question is how far do they want to take it?


Watch the full show HERE.


Background: Public Overwhelmingly Supports Planned Parenthood


All four national polls conducted in the wake of these attacks show extraordinarily strong support for Planned Parenthood.

  • poll from Hart research found that 64% of voters, including 72% of Independents, disagree with attempts to defund Planned Parenthood. Only 28% of voters support efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, and voters overwhelmingly say they would support a candidate who favors funding Planned Parenthood over a candidate who supports defunding the organization.

  • A recent YouGov poll found that a solid majority of Americans have a favorable view of Planned Parenthood – virtually unchanged from a year ago. The poll found that more than a third of people who think abortion should be banned in all cases have a favorable view of Planned Parenthood.

  • Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that a majority of Americans support federal funding for Planned Parenthood’s preventive services, and strongly oppose attempts to block millions of patients across the country from accessing care at Planned Parenthood’s health centers. Fully 54% of people said they support federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and just 26% oppose. When asked about federal funding for reproductive health services generally, compared to funding for the same services at Planned Parenthood specifically, respondents were more supportive (by as much as 10%) of funding health care services at Planned Parenthood.

  • And a recent NBC-WSJ poll shows that Planned Parenthood has a significantly higher favorability rating than any other group or individual tested – including the U.S. Supreme Court, President Obama, both political parties, and every Republican running for president.


Polls in political swing states since these attacks began also show extremely strong support for Planned Parenthood -- and opposition to shutting down the government.

Three new surveys conducted by Hart Research show that despite weeks of attacks from anti-abortion extremists and their allies in Congress, voters in the battleground states of New Hampshire, Ohio, and Pennsylvania strongly support Planned Parenthood. The polls found strong opposition to defunding the preventive health services, including cancer screenings and birth control, that Planned Parenthood provides to millions of women in communities across the country—as well as overwhelming opposition to a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood. Key findings from the surveys include:

  • 66% of New Hampshire voters oppose defunding Planned Parenthood’s preventive health services, including 72% of Independents.

  • 65% of Ohio voters oppose defunding Planned Parenthood’s preventive health services, including 59% of Independents.

  • 69% of Pennsylvania voters oppose defunding Planned Parenthood’s preventive health services, including 69% of Independents.

  • Large majorities of voters in each state (65% in New Hampshire, 60% in Ohio, and 65% in Pennsylvania) do not believe that defunding is justified by the deceptively edited videos released in recent weeks by anti-abortion extremists.

  • Overwhelming majorities of voters in each state (75% in New Hampshire, 74% in Ohio, and 76% in Pennsylvania), including majorities of Republican voters, have an unfavorable reaction to the idea of shutting down the federal government to block any funding for Planned Parenthood.

  • By a 2 to 1 margin, voters in all three states are less likely to vote to re-elect their senators if they vote to defund Planned Parenthood.


The latest attacks on Planned Parenthood have sparked a widespread public outcry and mobilization.

  • 342 state and national organizations – representing more than 42 million people – signed letters of support recognizing the unique and critical role that Planned Parenthood has a health care provider, educator, and advocate for women’s health.

  • Social media petitions have garnered more than 900,000 signatures from people in all 50 states. The hashtag for the positions, #StandWithPP has trended worldwide on Twitter.

  • Planned Parenthood supporters have made 62,000 phone calls to politicians to express their support for the organization’s health care services.

  • More than 100 grassroots events have been held across the country to support Planned Parenthood.


Women’s health was a deciding issue in the 2012 presidential election.

  • In 2012, Hart Research found that Mitt Romney and many Republican candidates’ views on women’s health were not only out of step with the majority of voters — they cost those Republicans in the election. [Hart Research, 12/5/12]

  • 62 percent of all voters disagreed with Romney’s position to end funding for Planned Parenthood’s health services, including 66 percent of women voters. [Hart Research, 12/5/12]

  • 61 percent of all voters (including 63 percent of women voters) disagreed with Romney’s position to overturn Roe v. Wade. [Hart Research, 12/5/12]

In Virginia in 2013, women’s health was a deciding factor.

  • “Democrat Terry McAuliffe won the Virginia’s governor’s race narrowly on the strength of women’s votes, by an eight-point margin–slimmer than several polls had predicted…[B]ecause African-American, Latina, and unmarried women turned out in numbers close to Barack Obama’s 2012 election, McAuliffe won women overall–and with them, the election. He also won 59% of the votes of people who said abortion was the most important issue to them, who made up 20% of the electorate.” [MSNBC, 11/5/13]

Support for women’s health is still a deciding issue for voters in swing states.

  • A Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research survey commissioned by NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood in four key battleground states (CO, IA, NH, NC) found that a candidate’s support of or opposition to women’s health was one of the most persuasive issues for voters. [Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, 11/11/14]

  • The most persuasive reason to vote against a candidate was the charge that he or she “opposes a woman's right to a safe, legal abortion in all circumstances, including rape, incest, and when the health of the woman is in danger.” [Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, 11/11/14]

  • Nearly six in ten voters reported that protecting women’s access to health care was a very important issue to them in deciding how to vote. [Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, 11/11/14]

  • 86 percent said protecting women's access to cancer screenings and birth control was an important issue in their voting decision — just as important as education and Social Security/Medicare. [Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, 11/11/14]


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