Health

Most Americans Don’t Want To Defund Planned Parenthood

CREDIT: AP Photo/Eric Gay

The vast majority of Americans favor providing federal funding for clinics that provide women’s health services, and most of them support these taxpayer dollars going to Planned Parenthood clinics specifically, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll released this week.

Seventy-three percent of poll respondents said they’re in favor of an unnamed group receiving federal funding to offer women’s health exams. When asked whether taxpayer dollars should go toward this unnamed group’s efforts to provide prenatal services or contraceptive services, 69 percent and 59 percent respectively said yes.

Planned Parenthood’s reputation has recently taken a hit thanks to the release of several inflammatory videos that suggest the group is improperly profiting off the sale of aborted fetal tissue. Among the respondents who had seen those videos, 44 percent said their attitude toward the national women’s health organization has gotten more negative.

Still, most participants said Planned Parenthood should keep receiving taxpayer money. Fifty-four percent of people polled said the group should maintain its federal funding for preventative health care services.

Thanks to the decades-old Hyde Amendment, which prevents taxpayer dollars from financing abortion services, Planned Parenthood does not use any of its federal funding for abortions.

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CREDIT: Andrew Briener/ThinkProgress

Amid the ongoing controversy about Planned Parenthood’s employees involvement in fetal tissue donation, the group’s funding streams have quickly become a political issue. GOP presidential candidates are vowing to cut off funding for the group if they’re elected to the White House. National lawmakers have introduced several bills in an attempt to end Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, though that legislation isn’t likely to make it through Congress. Meanwhile, several states have moved forward with their own plans to end their relationship with the group.

Fully defunding Planned Parenthood is easier said than done. Though it’s recently become a Republican talking point, health experts say it will be difficult to completely eliminate the taxpayer dollars going toward one of the country’s largest family planning providers.

That’s partly because Planned Parenthood receives government funding through several different sources. Most of its state and federal dollars come from Title X, the network of taxpayer-funded family planning programs, and from Medicaid, the federal insurance program for low-income Americans. The biggest chunk of the organization’s funding comes from providing basic health services — like birth control consultations, STD testing, and cancer screenings — to people enrolled in Medicaid.

Planned Parenthood opponents have repeatedly attempted to prevent Medicaid dollars from flowing to the organization. But courts have consistently stepped in to prevent that outcome, arguing that the Medicaid program cannot legally bar qualified health providers like Planned Parenthood from providing care to its patients.

Despite that legal precedent, several anti-abortion state lawmakers have announced they plan to sever their state’s Medicaid contracts with Planned Parenthood in light of the controversial videos. Last week, Utah and Arkansas became the latest states to take this approach.

In response, the Obama administration has warned states that cutting off Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid funding may violate federal law.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll comes on the heels of a previous survey that found Planned Parenthood polls better than all of the GOP presidential candidates. In light of that disparity, the issue threatens to have an effect on the lead-up to the election. In its coverage of the new poll, Reuters notes, “Republicans could be in risky territory if they continue criticizing Planned Parenthood as a key part of 2016 campaigns.”