TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Erica Sackin, Political Communications Director, Planned Parenthood Action Fund
DATE: Tuesday, December 15, 2015
RE: Memo on the #NoHateDebate --- It’s time to rise above the politics

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Tonight’s debate is expected to focus on foreign policy, and the threat terrorism poses to Americans. But there’s one threat that GOP candidates are likely to avoid talking about --- the threat of millions of women and men losing access to reproductive health care.   

Every single candidate on stage tonight has already embraced positions on women’s health that no successful candidate for President has held in recent history --- supporting blocking patients from accessing care at Planned Parenthood; opposing safe, legal abortion across the board; and looking to even restrict women’s access to birth control.

These candidates can no longer ignore the reality of their policies --- they threaten women’s access to lifesaving care.  Every candidate on stage has prioritized repealing the Affordable Care Act --- a law that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates has allowed nearly 8.2 million women to gain coverage. And more than 55 million women now have birth control coverage without a copay.

Millions rely on Planned Parenthood health centers for care every year. Yet every candidate on stage advocates for cutting access to reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood --- including birth control, STI testing, cancer screenings, sex education, and more.  

This policy agenda has been unequivocally rejected by the American people. Since the heavily edited and discredited videos came out in July, there have been 14 national polls measuring support for Planned Parenthood.  And every single one of them show strong support for Planned Parenthood and access to reproductive health care.  So not only are these extreme attacks on women’s health threatening care for millions, but they have been flat out rejected by the American public.  

And there’s more.  In addition to these policy attacks, many of these candidates have been spewing irresponsible and flat out untrue rhetoric about the health care services that Planned Parenthood provides. Words matter and this hateful rhetoric continues to demonize abortion providers and women seeking health care in this country.

Doubling down on false claims is not leadership. They need to be able to rise above the fray, act as leaders, and put the health and safety of the women and men in this country first --- even if those men and women are providing or seeking reproductive health care.

Will any of the candidates stand up for the millions of women, men, and young people who rely on Planned Parenthood and other health providers for essential reproductive health care?  

Background: Support for Planned Parenthood Is a Winning Issue for Candidates.

All fourteen nationwide  polls conducted in the wake of these attacks show strong support for Planned Parenthood and extraordinarily strong opposition to shutting down the government over Planned Parenthood federal funding.

  • New York Times/CBS News Poll taken in the middle of the 2015 “defund” fight found that most Americans think Planned Parenthood should continue to receive government funding. The nationwide survey found that congressional Republicans have more to lose in this recent budget fight; more Americans would blame Republicans than other political actors if the government were to shut down over the funding of Planned Parenthood.

  • In a new Pew Research Center Poll, a majority of Americans surveyed say that any budget deal must maintain funding for Planned Parenthood. This Pew poll found that if lawmakers fail to agree on a budget and the government does shut down, more say the Republicans are to blame than any other participant.

  • Quinnipiac University National poll found that  69% of American voters — including 56% of Republican voters — oppose shutting down the federal government over funding Planned Parenthood. The majority of voters oppose defunding Planned Parenthood, and a strong 60% percent of women oppose defunding the organization.

  • A poll from NBC News/Wall Street Journal found 6 in 10 Americans say they're opposed to completely eliminating Planned Parenthood from federal funding programs — including more than 40 percent who are "strongly" opposed. The Sept 28 poll demonstrates that American attitudes about Planned Parenthood are virtually unchanged after extremists released a series of deceptively edited videos.

  • The latest poll from CNN/ORC found that 7 out of 10 Americans oppose shutting down the government in order to ‘defund’ Planned Parenthood. Even the majority of those who labeled themselves as “Conservative” agree that it is more important to avoid a government shutdown than defund Planned Parenthood, and a strong 76% of respondents who make under 50K a year share the same view.

  • 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 preventive services, and strongly oppose attempts to block millions of patients across the country from accessing care at Planned Parenthood 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.

  • 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 key Republicans running for president.

  • And a recent Fox News poll showed that voters agree that Planned Parenthood should continue to receive federal funding, even after the video attacks this summer. In addition, the Fox News poll found that more voters than not view Planned Parenthood positively.

  • A nationwide USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll found that two-thirds of Americans continue to support funding for Planned Parenthood.

  • A new Rasmussen Report found that voter attitudes about Planned Parenthood have not changed in the nearly three months since the release of the first video from CMP — a majority of Americans still view Planned Parenthood favorably.

  • A new poll from Associated Press-GfK found that 69% of those surveyed do not support forcing a government shutdown to block Planned Parenthood's funding, and less than half of Republicans would entertain this idea.

National polls show Americans believe women have the right to safe and legal abortion.

  • Bloomberg Politics national poll found that 67% of Americans surveyed said the Supreme Court was right to rule that women have a constitutional right to abortion.

Background: The Affordable Care Act Has Had Tremendous Benefits for Women

  • One of the most immediate was its birth control benefit --- thanks to which, more than 55 million women now have preventive coverage including birth control without a copay through their private insurance.

  • A recent study published in Health Affairs found that the Affordable Care Act has saved women an estimated $1.4 billion a year on birth control pills alone — showing the clear economic impact that access to no co-pay birth control has had on women’s lives.

    • The study found that the mean out-of pocket expense for the pill declined by 38 percent between June 2012 and June 2013 and declined 68 percent for IUDs in the same time period.

    • The study also found that before the birth control benefit went into effect, contraceptive costs accounted for between 30 and 44 percent of women’s total out-of-pocket health care costs.

  • The Affordable Care Act also includes a provision that prevents insurance companies from using what’s called a “gender rating” to charge women higher premiums than men for the same benefits.