the body politic

Guess What? Americans Love Planned Parenthood

Photo: Getty Images

Today, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards is testifying in front of Congress during yet another Republican-driven hearing about whether to cut federal funding to her organization in the wake of videos that purport to show Planned Parenthood officials selling fetal tissue. Those who’ve been following along will recall that thanks to the Hyde Amendment, Planned Parenthood is not permitted to use federal money to provide abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or the life of the mother, but that has no bearing on the fact that Republicans are once again pretending that it does. There have been nine congressional votes on whether to pull Planned Parenthood’s funding since 2007, and today will bring us to 15 votes to restrict women’s health care in this congressional session alone.

But here’s another way in which the Republican mission to destroy one of the country’s largest providers of women’s health care is divorced from reality: It appears completely blind to evidence that Americans — the same Americans on whom the Republican party relies as voters — really, really love Planned Parenthood.

Americans love Planned Parenthood so much that in an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday, 61 percent of people polled said that they opposed cutting funds to the organization. But more notably, Planned Parenthood again emerged as the entity with the highest favorability ratings in the poll, with 47 percent of respondents saying they feel positively about it, more than felt good about either political party or any of the presidential candidates.

Looking down that favorability list, you’ll find something else that should trouble those right-wing crusaders who this morning grilled Richards on the size of her salary — the list of other things Americans feel warmly toward, in descending order.

Because coming in right after Planned Parenthood, with a 46 percent positive rating, is President Barack Obama. Who strongly supports Planned Parenthood.

Next, at 41 percent favorability, is the Democratic Party, which also supports Planned Parenthood.

Enjoying a 40 percent positive poll result is Vice-President Joe Biden, a religious Catholic who did say last week that he believes abortion is “always wrong” and has voted for the Hyde Amendment and Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, but who also, in 2012, said that he refuses to impose his religious beliefs on other Americans, and who has stated unequivocally: “I do not believe that we have a right to tell women they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor.” Joe Biden currently supports Planned Parenthood.

Leading Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton slides in next with a 39 percent positive rating. Clinton not only supports Planned Parenthood, she has bypassed accurate but anodyne defenses of the organization that cite only its breast exams and cancer screenings by pointing out that the fight against Planned Parenthood is actually a fight to make abortion inaccessible. “For more than a century, Planned Parenthood has provided essential services for women,” Clinton said this summer. “It’s unfortunate that Planned Parenthood has been the object of such a concerted attack … and it’s really an attack against a woman’s right to choose.” Today she tweeted, “When Republicans attack Planned Parenthood, they’re attacking women’s health. Proud to #StandWithPP — and always will.” Sharp-eyed readers (and every member of the political press corps) will spot that Hillary also gets some of the highest negative numbers in this poll, though not as bad as Donald Trump and just about as bad as the Republican Party. Yep. That’s right: Lots and lots of people hate Hillary. And they still like her more than anyone who wants to defund Planned Parenthood.

Tied at 32 percent positive are presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a staunch supporter of abortion rights who last night tweeted, “I #StandWithPP. These attacks come from those who simply don’t believe women have a right to control their own bodies. I disagree. #PinkOut,” and the Black Lives Matter Movement. The latter is largely understood as a movement in response to the violence enacted, often by law-enforcement officials, against men and women of color. But Collier Meyerson, writing last week at Fusion, has made a strong argument about the natural link between Black Lives Matter and the defense of Planned Parenthood, since women of color disproportionately experience poverty and thus disproportionately rely on Planned Parenthood’s services. The attack on Planned Parenthood, argues Meyerson, is part of “the systemic hijacking of black women’s health, the systemic erasure of black and brown women’s lives.”

And this is where the poll dips below the 30 percent positive mark, and bringing us to those entities that stand in opposition to Planned Parenthood. At 29 percent are candidate and physician Ben Carson and his Republican Party as a whole. Then it’s just a tumble down through conservative opponents of reproductive health, from Carly Fiorina (27 percent positive), a candidate who not only opposes Planned Parenthood but continues to double down on an astounding and disprovable lie about what’s shown in the undercover videos, to Donald Trump (25 percent positive), who I’m pretty sure opposes everything that benefits anyone who isn’t white, male, or named Trump, a category that includes Planned Parenthood. Coming in last is poor Jeb Bush, whose family has historically offered Planned Parenthood robust support, but who as governor of Florida cut off state funding to the organization and suggested in August that he was “not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.”

So to recap: Today’s poll shows not only Planned Parenthood, but every politician who supports Planned Parenthood, remains more popular with Americans than every politician and party that opposes Planned Parenthood.

But hey, Congressional Republicans, you do you. Seems like it’s working out great.

Guess What? Americans Love Planned Parenthood