Nearly two-thirds of American voters said they oppose a Republican proposal to strip federal funds from Planned Parenthood after the release of two undercover "sting" videos of the family planning provider, according to a new poll released Tuesday by the liberal Hart Research Associates.
The poll, commissioned by Planned Parenthood, surveyed 800 registered voters by telephone between Thursday and Sunday to determine whether the undercover footage posted earlier this month by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress had affected Americans' opinions of the family planning organization. The findings echo a YouGov poll released last week that found 52 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Planned Parenthood.
The videos, which are heavily edited, purport to show Planned Parenthood doctors discussing the illegal sale of fetal body parts after abortions. The family planning provider says the videos actually show doctors discussing reimbursement for the costs of donating fetal tissue for medical research, which is legal because it is not for profit.
The footage has prompted Republicans in Congress to escalate their attacks on Planned Parenthood, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) started the process last week of fast-tracking a bill that would zero out federal family planning funding for Planned Parenthood. But the new poll found that only 28 percent of voters favor that proposal, and just a quarter of voters would prefer a congressional candidate who supports defunding the family planning provider over one who would continue funding it.
Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million a year in federal funds, which it uses for contraception services, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, and other non-abortion services. Nearly a quarter of women polled said they had personally visited a Planned Parenthood clinic for health care, and 61 percent of independent women voters said they would favor a candidate who wants to continue funding the provider. Of people inclined to vote Republican, a quarter said they preferred a candidate who wanted to continue funding Planned Parenthood, said Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) led 134 of her House Republican colleagues on Monday in asking U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Department of Justice to investigate Planned Parenthood and its alleged sale of fetal body parts, saying the issue is of "great public importance." But the Hart poll found that most voters are not paying attention to the sting videos.
"This is not a topic people are following with rapt attention," Garin said. "To the extent people are, they tend to be Republicans inside the Fox News bubble."
When presented with the Center for Medical Progress' claims about the video along with Planned Parenthood's response, more than half of respondents said they are inclined to believe Planned Parenthood, while only a quarter said they believe the anti-abortion group.
Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, told reporters on Monday that the videos definitely caught Planned Parenthood by surprise. But she said the family planning provider has "not had any widespread pushback from any organizations" that financially support them, and she said the new poll shows that people support Planned Parenthood and "reject the political circus" spurred by the attack.