This article first appeared online at Politico on June 2, 2011.
Poll: Public tired of abortion debate
By Kate Nocera
Americans are growing tired of the abortion debate and want to move on to a broader discussion about reproductive health, a new survey by a Democratic polling firm finds.
The poll, conducted by Lake Partners, found that Americans feel Congress has focused too much on abortion and not enough on things like preventive care, reproductive health and expanding access to birth control.
When presented with the following statement, 79 percent of adults agreed, with 49 percent agreeing strongly:
“While the current political debate focuses too much on abortion, there is a much broader discussion that needs to happen around reproductive health. We may have different opinions about abortion, so rather than continuing to argue about this one issue, our elected officials should focus on the broader context like providing greater access to birth control, teaching comprehensive sex education and improving maternal health and childbirth outcomes. These are issues that will allow us to come together.”
The poll was commissioned by the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, an organization that represents family planning administrators and clinicians, and the Communications Consortium Media Center, a public interest media center that works with nonprofits.
The debate over family planning earlier this year could have broader implications for politicians, the poll finds. Four in 10 Americans said they would be less likely to vote for a member of Congress who votes to defund groups like Planned Parenthood.
But the House overwhelmingly voted to defund the family planning clinics in April, and Rep. Chris Smith’s No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act — which would cut off all potential sources of federal funds for the procedure — easily passed the House as well last month. In those cases, anti-abortion groups insisted that the public sided with them in the 2010 elections.
“The American people gave this Congress marching orders to end taxpayer funding of abortion,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said at the time of the abortion vote. “The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act aims to do just that, permanently prohibiting taxpayer funding for abortion across all federal programs.”