WASHINGTON ― If President-elect Donald Trump defunds Planned Parenthood, some of his supporters would be “surprised,” “frustrated,” “misdirected,” “disappointed in the democratic system,” and “pissed off as hell,” according to a series of focus groups commissioned by the family planning provider and conducted by an independent research group.
In focus groups in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Wisconsin, Trump voters reacted candidly to the news that Republicans in Congress will try to pass a bill stripping the family planning provider of $400 million in Medicaid funds as early as January, and that Trump has said he would sign it.
“The guy I voted for, I’d be disappointed if he signed it,” said one middle-aged man in Milwaukee. “He’s making sure the Congress is on his side, but he doesn’t care about all us people who voted for him.”
Republicans in Congress have been promising to defund the family planning provider for years ― even threatening to shut down the federal government over the issue ― because some of Planned Parenthood’s clinics offer abortion services. Now that Republicans control both chambers, and Trump is on his way in, the GOP has a shot to actually make good on its promise.
But defunding Planned Parenthood is not going to be a popular move. According to a Politico poll conducted a week before the election, 58 percent of voters ― and slightly more than half of all Trump voters ― oppose stripping reimbursements from the nation’s largest family planning provider.
Planned Parenthood conducted the focus groups with Trump voters who oppose the defunding effort to get a deeper understanding of how they might react to it.
The Trump supporters ― who ranged in age, race and gender ― said they voted for the real estate mogul because they were looking for something other than a career politician; someone who would fix the economy and change the way Washington works.
“If he does sign this, it’s gonna cause more disruption in our society,” said a white male Trump supporter in a Las Vegas focus group. “If he doesn’t sign it, it’s gonna make a big statement that he’s fighting for the little ones.”
Planned Parenthood contracts with Medicaid to reimburse the reproductive health care services it provides to low-income patients, including birth control, cancer screenings, and sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment. No federal funds can be used to pay for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or if the life of the mother is in danger. But Congress is expected to propose a bill through “reconciliation” in January that would partially repeal the Affordable Care Act. The legislative process of reconciliation, which is used for budget bills, requires only a 50-vote majority instead of 60, and thus has a greater chance of passing in a divided Congress.
In video recordings of the focus groups, the Trump voters opposed to defunding the family planning provider appeared surprised that Trump had committed to signing such legislation Some of them were even more surprised to realize his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, has led the fight against Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights for half a decade.
“I’m astounded,” said one Trump supporter in Phoenix, upon hearing about Pence’s anti-abortion record. “I guess I’ve been living in a bubble. He sounds like a tyrant.”