Folly of going after Planned Parenthood

Why would anyone want to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, one of the nation’s leading providers of preventive health services to women and men?  It is bad public policy, will hurt women seeking health care and hurt Republicans on Election Day.  And, it will do nothing to help our Party overcome their gender gap. 

Voters express strong support for the preventive healthcare that Planned Parenthood provides and consistently indicate they will vote against candidates who seek to defund Planned Parenthood.   This is especially true among key groups of women voters who Republicans desperately need to make up ground with.

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In a recent survey of women voters, more than three in four (76 percent) said it was very important to them personally to have access to affordable birth control of their choice including 57 percent of Republican women, 55 percent of conservative women, 75 percent of Hispanic women, 79 percent of the Independent women and 76 percent of 18 to 29 year old women. 

Further, even as Congressional Republicans announced their intentions this summer to investigate Planned Parenthood in the wake of claims about fetal tissue donation at some of its health centers, women voters stood with Planned Parenthood and the preventive care its health centers provide.  Even in July at the height of the media maelstrom, a strong majority of women (63 percent) opposed the congressional proposal to end all government funding for Planned Parenthood.  And, a majority of both men and women said the statement “Planned Parenthood is an important provider of healthcare services to women in America” described the organization very well including a majority of Independent voters. 

Republicans cannot win without a greater share of the Independent vote, the female vote and the Hispanic vote.  Why would we push an agenda that will push these important constituencies away from our candidates?

In a September 2015 Suffolk University/USA Today survey, 65 percent opposed cutting off all Federal funding for Planned Parenthood.  

In a September 2015 CBS News/NY Times survey, 55 percent believe Planned Parenthood should receive funding from the federal government.

In a September 2015 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 61 percent opposed total elimination of federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

In states with U.S. Senate races, races which could determine control of the Senate, the numbers are equally strong or stronger.

62 percent of Alaskans oppose the congressional proposal to end all government funding for Planned Parenthood and 53 percent would vote for a U.S. Senate candidate who favors continued funding over a candidate who favors ending funding.  (Hart Research, September 2015)

Similar findings were found in an August 2015 Hart Research survey in Ohio, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. In each one of these states, where incumbent Republican Senators are in tough re-election fights, two-thirds of voters oppose the congressional proposal and more than 55 percent of voters say they are less likely to vote to reelect their senators if they support the proposal. 

Planned Parenthood serves an important role in health care for millions of Americans with one in five women in our country having chosen Planned Parenthood for health care services at least once in their life. 

And Planned Parenthood is not a Washington-based organization, but a national organization comprised of approximately 700 health centers operated by locally governed affiliates, each as diverse and responsive as the community they serve.  Defunding Planned Parenthood will hurt these local health centers many of which are in Republican districts serving Republicans.

In these health centers, women and men are able to obtain a wide range of services, most of which are preventive in nature.  These local centers prevent unintended pregnancies through providing contraception, they work to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and provide vital screenings for cervical cancer as well as other types of cancer saving the lives of millions of women each year.

With voters indicating a strong desire to continue federal funding of Planned Parenthood and understanding the important role Planned Parenthood plays in the lives of millions of American women and men each year, why would the congressional leadership push a proposal to eliminate the funding?  Why would Republicans who will face the voters in states and districts in which Planned Parenthood is providing services to voters whose votes they seek, support such a proposal?

Pushing an agenda to defund Planned Parenthood will hurt women – and will hurt the Republican Party.

Carpenter is a Republican political consultant with over 35 years of experience.  He has worked for numerous Republican State Parties, the Republican National Committee and has been a pollster and strategist providing research and strategic advice to Republican candidates across the country for over 20 years.  He is the president and founder of Chesapeake Beach Consulting.

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