November 18th, 2009
06:00 AM ET
5 years ago

CNN Poll: Majority favor abortion funding ban in health care bill

Pro-life protesters hit Capitol Hill earlier this month.
Pro-life protesters hit Capitol Hill earlier this month.

Washington (CNN) – Six in 10 Americans favor a ban on the use of federal funds for abortion, according to a new poll which also indicates that the public may also favor legislation that would prevent many women from getting their health insurance plan to cover the cost of an abortion, even if no federal funds are involved.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday morning indicates that 61 percent of the public opposes the use of public money for abortions for women who can not afford the procedure, with 37 percent in favor of allowing the use of federal funds.

And by a 51 percent to 45 percent margin, those questioned in the survey think that a women who get abortions should pay the full costs out of their own pocket, even if they have private health insurance and no federal funds are involved. The 6-point difference is within the poll's sampling error.

The health care reform bill that narrowly passed in the House of Representatives on November 7 included tight restrictions on the use of federal money for abortion coverage. Abortion rights activists are strongly opposed to such restrictions.

"Roughly one in five Americans who oppose the House health care bill do so because it is not liberal enough," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The abortion issue may be one reason why. But for most Americans, potential restrictions on abortion may not be a dealbreaker."


A bill that passed last month in the Senate Finance Committee included less restrictive language. It's unclear what the abortion language will be in the full Senate bill that Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to unveil this week.

The survey indicates that 26 percent say abortion should be legal in all circumstances, with half of those questioned saying it should be legal in certain circumstances, and just under one in four feeling abortion should never be legal.

Lack of Democratic unity on a public option is another issue that has dogged health care reform. Republicans are united in opposition to the proposal. The bill that passed the House 220 to 215 included a version of the public option, an insurance plan administered by the federal government that would compete with plans offered by private health insurance companies. According to the poll, 56 percent favor the creation of a public option, with 42 percent opposed.

"Younger Americans like the public option," Holland notes. "But a majority of senior citizens are opposed to that part of the House bill."

The Senate bill may include a provision that allows states to opt out of a government health insurance plan. Two-thirds of people questioned oppose that provision, with 28 percent saying they favor allowing states to opt out.

The poll also indicates that Americans like employer mandates and new restrictions on health insurance companies, expanding Medicaid and providing subsidies to low-income families. And they like a tax on millionaires to pay for it.

But according to the survey, Medicare cuts are not popular, and the public is split on a provision requiring all Americans to get health insurance.

"Generally speaking, Americans like the parts of the House bill that add new regulations to the health insurance industry and provide more coverage for people who can't afford health care," Holland notes. "They also like language in the bill that requires companies to provide health insurance to their workers. But they're not so sure about requiring people to get health insurance on their own if they don't get it through another source."

Americans are also split over whether the near-unanimous GOP vote against the House bill indicates there is something wrong with the bill - or something wrong with the Republican Party.

But looking ahead to the Senate debate, the public continues to approve of the Senate rules which allow filibusters, a move by the minority party in the Senate that can kill bills or nominations by bringing the chamber to a standstill. Sixty votes are needed to end a filibuster.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted November 13-15, with 1,014 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Full results (pdf)

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: CNN Polls • Health care
soundoff (95 Responses)
  1. haren

    Nothing to say but selfish people.
    Like they say a communist is communist until it affect them to give up something of their possession.

    November 18, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  2. Jay T.

    I wonder if the lady in the picture gets that fired up when we are discussing the health and safety of human beings after they exit the womb. If so, sign the Crazy Cat Lady up for the health reform debate.

    November 18, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  3. blutarski

    I predict that the Senate majority leadership will not care what 60% of the public thinks, and will add the federal funding option for abortions back into the health care bill.

    November 18, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  4. Randy in PA

    Abortions are legal in this country. A fact that everyone has to recognize.
    For those who hate abortion, I say change the law.

    As for paying for an abortion, I would say treat it like other elective type procedures. Want a tummy tuck, you pay for it. Want a nose job, you pay for it. Want an abortion, you pay for it, UNLESS it's a rape, incest or life of mother issue. If insurance carriers want to pay for it, fine, it's up to them.

    I don't want my money paying for someone else's nose job and I don't want to pay for something that may have been caused by a lack of self control.

    November 18, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  5. PK

    "Six in 10 Americans favor a ban on the use of federal funds for abortion...." But notice the way the agenda-driven CNN Ticker has chosen to portray that 60% of Americans... with an absurd picture of a mullet-wearing, screaming, nut job.

    Ask yourself, what picture would a journalist have used? And compare that to the picture the "journalist" at CNN used.

    November 18, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  6. Mark from Louisiana

    The only time government money should be used for abortion is in cases of incest, rape or to save the mothers life.
    I would also include abortions for welfare moms to stop them from being baby factories to get a bigger welfare check.

    November 18, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  7. MissyW

    Coming from someone who knows firthand the risidual mental anguish of making a BAD decision early in my life I can say this...
    If you're having an abortion due to incest, rape or in a life or death medical situation the counseling and procedure should without a doubt be covered by either federal or private health insurance. If having an abortion is due to youthful stupidity or cluelessness you should absolutely have to pay for it yourself, hopefully then it will never happen again.

    November 18, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. Robin

    Agreed. We should not use public funds to pay for abortions. It's a proven fact that abortion 96% of abortions are done as a means of birth control. PLUS the statistics for women having mulitiple abortions are up.

    In the cases of rape, incest, or medical, it sould be dealt with on the case by case basis.

    By the way, the average cost of Birth Control Pills is $20 a month. Planned Parenthood will offer Birth Control cheaper or even for free.

    Not sure why this is such an issue when it is much cheaper just to avoid the unwanted pregnancy all together.

    November 18, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  9. Doug

    If Obama, Reid and Pelosi include this into the legislation, they will be lamb duck politicians. No questions asked.

    November 18, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  10. Pro Woman's Liberty New Yorker

    Pro-lifers should be banned as a terrorist oraginazation. It is curious to me that a group which labels itself "Pro Life" would carry out their cause, with intimidation, fear, hatred, and yes: killings. That is terrorrism and it should be called out for what it is. Further more, if a woman or her doctor is forced to endure any of the above, it should those actions should also be labeled for what they are: hate crimes. To force a woman, through coerxion, fear, violence and intimidation to give birth under conditions which may include incest, non-concentual sex, rape, congenital defects, and poverty is a crime against humanity, and would propogate the actions which created the situation in the fist place to continue to exhist, and no-one, no-once in their right mids would argue that incest, non-concentual sex, congenital deforminity, and rape are God given rights.

    November 18, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  11. Enough

    There is way too much emphasis put on abortion. In this day and age birth control is a better option. Too many people use abortion as birth control. Being pro choice, maybe if abortion wasn't so easy to get, people would start using birth control..........there are so many options available, that the majority of unwanted pregnancies could easily be avoided.

    November 18, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  12. Alex

    Then the majority of Americans don't understand the U.S. Constitution.

    November 18, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  13. BestProfitCompany = WAR

    Duh! Nobody likes abortion, NOBODY. Even planned parenthood would like to see the number of abortions come down. BUT it is ESSENTIAL to women's freedom! Why should we force women to keep their child for 9 months then for 18 years they have to take care of them. It is like they are imprisson for 18+ years. Believe me, you right wing zealots dont want to take care of them also. If you did you would adopt every child you can!

    First of all, no one owns women's body except themselves. If they want to do something with their body then it is their choice, not old white men (church leaders/rethuglicans). KEEP BIG GOVERNMENT OUT OF WOMEN'S CHOICE! Yeah, I'm talking to you big supporters of big government, aka Rethuglicans!

    November 18, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  14. Andi

    That's too bad. Abortion is a legal medical procedure and should be treated as such. There are a lot of things 'my' tax dollars fund that I don't believe in, mainly, WAR, and I don't have a choice.

    It's like Jon Stewart says – if it's $20 to get into the zoo, you can't give them $18.50 because you don't like Zebras.

    November 18, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  15. PREDICTA

    From a cost perspective, is it not less expensive to fund an abortion of an unwanted child than pay all the costs associated with raising that child (healthcare, education, welfare, etc) over 18 years? If the intent of blocking federal funding is to stop or slow abortions, it will do neither.

    November 18, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  16. Matt

    60% of america think the govt should control a womans body and access to healthcare. They probably want slavery as well...doesn't mean it is right.

    November 18, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  17. sammieb51

    And if you are lucky right now, with decent insurance, affluence, and maybe you are a married 40-45 YO white woman who discovers she is pregnant and doesn't want to disrupt her life with another kid - you go to your doctor and he ushers you in for a D&C and your insurance covers it in the hospital.

    Quit kicking the abortion issue around - if the GOP wanted to change it they would have between 1994 and 2006, but thye know in so doing they owuld lose their constituency.

    November 18, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  18. Terry in Iowa

    God has been and always will be pro choice. Not just in the area of procreation, but in all decisions we make. He’s given us free will. Yes, he’s given us his commandments and through his messengers, he’s tries to teach us the right things to do, but he’s given us free will. We will atone for our own transgressions, but they are “our own”. It’s time for pro-lifers to let God do his job; they have enough on their own plates to worry about.

    November 18, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  19. Aunt Bea and Opie

    We dont think this woman could care less about abortion.We think she is a hired gun of for the "Corporate Fascist health insurance companies,that are killing thousands of people a day by denying them health care that this woman looks like she needs from the neck up.We are prolife also,but we dont think it will ever be legislated because the rightwing uses it to keep the nuts on their side.

    November 18, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  20. sammieb51

    What year is it anyhow - are we going backwards or is it just me? This argument sounds more like a bad marraige - over an over and over the same territory again and again, no resolution. Get out of my bedroom, my house, my life - I pay taxes and abide by the laws, defend my country regularly and fund all its wars, that's enough. Leave me alone, the party of 'small government'. Quit imposing your standards on me.

    November 18, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
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