Polls Find Major Political Liability for Senators Who Back “Defunding,” Government Shutdown over Planned Parenthood

Washington, DCThree new surveys conducted by Hart Research Associates on behalf of Planned Parenthood Action Fund show that voters in the battleground states of New Hampshire, Ohio, and Pennsylvania strongly support Planned Parenthood despite weeks of outrageous political attacks from anti-abortion extremists and their allies in Congress. The poll 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; overwhelming opposition to a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood; and major political liability for Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Pat Toomey (R-PA),each of whom voted earlier this month to defund these vital health services.

Key findings from the survey include:

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

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

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

  • Large majorities of voters in each state (65 percent in New Hampshire, 60 percent in Ohio, and 65 percent 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 percent in New Hampshire, 74 percent in Ohio, and 76 percent 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.

  • A majority of voters in each state would be less likely to support Sens. Ayotte, Portman, and Toomey for re-election as a result of their vote to defund preventive health care services at Planned Parenthood.

  • Roughly two-thirds of voters in each state want Sens. Ayotte, Portman, and Toomey to take a clear stand right now against shutting down the government over Planned Parenthood.

  • Approximately two-thirds of voters in each state would be less likely to support Sens. Ayotte, Portman, and Toomey for re-electionif they vote to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood.

You can find a memo from Hart Research Associates HERE. You can find the poll’s top lines HERE.

Statement of Geoff Garin, President, Hart Research Associates

“The findings in each of these three states mirror the findings from our national survey: strong support for Planned Parenthood, strong opposition to defunding, and clear political danger signs for senators who continue to pursue attacks on Planned Parenthood and an anti-women’s health agenda. Support for defunding Planned Parenthood will take a political toll on Sens. Ayotte, Portman, and Toomey, including among voters who otherwise might be inclined to support them for re-election. These results leave little doubt that those who want to lead their party to a shutdown fight over Planned Parenthood are creating the likelihood of a political debacle for the Republican Party brand and for GOP candidates in 2016 reelection battles.”

Statement of Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund

“Today’s poll makes it clear: American voters continue to stand strongly with Planned Parenthood and reject these transparently political attacks. Voters know who Planned Parenthood is: the nation’s most trusted reproductive health care provider, and the place millions of women, men and young people turn to each year for basic, preventive care such as birth control or cancer screenings. This relentless, month-long campaign by anti-abortion extremists has not swayed voters, instead they see it for what it is: a concerted effort to end access to safe and legal abortion that is well outside the mainstream. As this poll, and the three national polls before it have shown us, there is a political price to pay for politicians who attack Planned Parenthood and get swept up in a race to the bottom on women’s health.”

Planned Parenthood’s nonprofit health centers provide a wide range of preventive health care services, and serve a total of 2.7 million patients per year ---  at least 60 percent of whom benefit from public health coverage programs such as the nation’s family planning program and Medicaid. More than half of Planned Parenthood's health centers are in rural or medically underserved areas, meaning that often without Planned Parenthood, our patients would have nowhere else to turn for reproductive health care. More than 90 percent of the care Planned Parenthood provides is preventive, including lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Approximately 1 in 5 women has relied on a Planned Parenthood health center for care in her lifetime.

The surveys released today follow a national survey with similar findings released two weeks ago. That survey found that 64 percent of voters nationwide, including 72 percent of Independents, do not agree with congressional Republicans who say that “there should be an immediate vote to end all government funding for Planned Parenthood, including for services Planned Parenthood provides, such as cancer screenings and family planning” because of the deceptive, anti-abortion videos.