November 18th, 2009
06:00 AM ET
4 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. Willy Brown

    If you don't want a baby then keep your legs closed missy.

    November 18, 2009 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  2. ALAN St LOUIS MO

    I WANT A VERY LIBERAL HEALTH CARE PROPOSAL PASSED NOW

    and well majority of Americans do to. IT is WHY WE PUT ALL YOU DEMS IN POWER IT IS A MANDATE, USE IT OR LOSE IT

    but i do agree abortions leave it out unless it was rape are incest. Taxes should not pay for irresponsible hanky panky games.

    That issues needs to be addressed in schools and mandatory sex education class starting in middle school thru college.

    Spend tax money on PREVENTION of pregnancy vs abortions.

    November 18, 2009 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  3. terry,va

    Why are we still debating this? Obummie stated in his address to congress that we would not sign a bill that included funding for abortion. The reason why we are still talking about this is simple. He is a liar and a spineless person that talks out of both sides of this face every time he opens it. People are testing if he really meant what he said or if it is some more hot air. Ie: Gitmo closing by year end, Afghan being the war of necessity etc,etc, Prove me wrong on this one Obummie.

    November 18, 2009 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  4. George Guadiane - Austerlitz, NY

    At one point in our history, a majority favored slavery, then segregation. The fact that the populace has not caught up to the ethical and social mores of the times is not a sufficient reason to accept a situation.

    November 18, 2009 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  5. Maria - Proud Democrat

    I always wonder where they get these mystery pollers from..........the Democratic or Republican campaign offices?

    Why is it that the polls never match what people really feel.

    The majority of Democrats we speak to DO NOT like the current health care proposals.

    They don't like the fact that we are going to be REQUIRED to pay a fine if we don't have health insurance. With so many people losing jobs and homes left and right......the last thing they are worried about is health care. They worry about feeding their kids, keeping a roof over their heads and keeping their jobs.

    We are in an economic mess and to ask Americans to pay additional fines and penalties for health care at this time........is just plain dumb!

    If the Democrats in Washington keep going down this ridiculous path, they are going to find themselves in the unemployment line side by side with their constituents.

    November 18, 2009 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  6. howie

    This poll makes me feel proud to be American

    November 18, 2009 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  7. Rob

    What if the abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother? Remember people, not everything is black and white, and these medical emergencies do happen. Or how about victims of sexual assaults? What about 9-,10-, 11-year-old victims? If you support not even offering to allow a person to purchase on their own, with their own money, certain coverage, than you are going down a road that will take you to a place you will come to regret.

    November 18, 2009 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  8. Indiana Voter

    I'm sure this poll is going to upset the liberals who live by polls.

    November 18, 2009 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  9. terry,va

    How is abortion a health care issue? Tell me what sort of illness/disease caused the conception of a child. Is it called sexual addiction, like drug addiction? In any event, Obummie said he wouldn't allow abortion to be covered by taxpayer dollars. He hasn't keep his word on anything yet and I doubt that he will here either.

    November 18, 2009 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  10. Right Leaning Independent

    60% favor a ban on using federal money to fund abortion yet I am sure the loony left will still try to ram it through. I bet the Liberals are about to come unglued about right now....

    November 18, 2009 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  11. Obama = Abortion

    Catholics who voted for Obama have a chance to redeem themselves – by opposing any Health Reform legislation that pays for abortions. But, they may ultimately find themselves in the position of helping to cause millions of abortions, since the final Reform legislation is likely to include public funding of abortions. There are consequences of elections, and consequences of voting against your better conscience.

    November 18, 2009 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Roughly one in five Americans who oppose the House health care bill do so because it is not liberal enough,"
    -------------------------------

    This statement appears to be a direct contradiction to the headline. Or perhaps it is the extraction to the nth degree of those famous " out of 10 people X in 10" in order to obtain maximum value added from these polls.

    November 18, 2009 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  13. Ted from Calif.

    This issue is driven by various religious factions who seem to forget that the constitution not only protects religion from government but also protects government and citizens from religion.

    November 18, 2009 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  14. Reny

    Abortion is murder and should be stopped. God will judge us one day and that judgement will be terrible.

    November 18, 2009 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  15. T'SAH from Virginia

    What is the BIG Problem with this!! The government NEVER covered abortions so why would a Health Care Bill owned by the goverment cover ABORTIONS!! Jeez! Abortion is a PRIVATE decision and should be paid for by PRIVATE money!!

    And another thing – Why are the REPUGS complaining about ANYTHING in the bill when they are NOT voting for it????? To me it seems as if they are ONLY putting their foot in the pool when it's 90 degrees outside – JUMP IN THE POOL "DUMMIES", it's much cooler inside...................... Such LOSERS!!!

    November 18, 2009 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  16. D. Tree

    Trick question. There ALREADY is a band on using Federal money for abortions.

    Wake up CNN and explain this correctly: people are opposed to this amendment because it would prevent a woman using HER OWN FUNDS to purchase insurance that covers abortion.

    The RNC has insurance that covers abortion, and so do right wing groups like Tony Perkins' Focus on Family.

    They are all hypocrites, and they are using Health Care Reform to further their own agenda!

    November 18, 2009 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  17. Silence Dogoode

    Don't be fooled. This is a smoke screen, just like Obama's lie about the bill not covering illegal immigrants. As all those LAWYERS know (unless they are completely incompetent and did not attend law school). Once a bill is made into a law, it becomes open to lawsuits. similar lawsuits in CA about denying illegals from getting welfare and education have already overturned the law and they are happily collecting "stealing" from the tax payers of CA. They can leave abortion out of the bill knowing fully well it can be challenged due to Roe V. Wade...and soon we will be paying for abortions. Print this CNN if you dare!

    November 18, 2009 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  18. tony

    i am a liberal dem but i do agree with the american people. do not use my tax money to fund abortion.

    November 18, 2009 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  19. AJP

    If we ban abortion, what other items will we be asked to ban.

    Wake up America we live in the 21st Century.

    November 18, 2009 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  20. Ryan

    Do these same people want to use tax money to raise the child after it's born? Doubtful.

    November 18, 2009 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  21. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Stay out of a woman's reproductive organs you crazy loons!!!!! Especially you old men and dried up, bitter old religous nuts!!!!!

    November 18, 2009 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  22. Sherina DC

    This is a lie, we need to have free abortions the more that are covered the more it is accepted

    November 18, 2009 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  23. Richie

    Let'em get a coat hanger for God's sake.

    November 18, 2009 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  24. Anonymous

    Hmm... is this saying that a Majority of Americans, are against the Gov't funding of a program murdering the helpless, or just abortion. HealthCare Reform is attempting to not only control more of your life but deciding where and when life ends.
    Will there be a Ministry of Health as well...that would put the icing on the cake.

    November 18, 2009 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  25. Happily an Independent

    When someone uses only there own money then you might say it is a private decision. When you start using out tax money, then it is no longer private. I do not want my tax dollar paying to allow someone to choose to terminate a pregnancy. If you were irresponsible enough to get pregnant, then at least show some responsibility at some point and pay to terminate it with your own money.

    I do not consider myself pro-choice or pro-life. For the most part, I have not focused on the issue except for my own personal view that I think the procedure is repugnant. I along with many others do care if you start asking me to be a party to abortion by using our tax dollars. Federal programs can fund abortions. Federal employees get private insurance. The government pays a portion and the employees pays a portion of the premiums and they are not able to get abortion coverage. In the health care exchanges, the government pays a poition and the beneficiary pays a portion. That is the same as federal employees. If you take federal money then your insurance is no longer private insurance. Therefore, no abortion coverage paid for by taxpayers

    November 18, 2009 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
1 2 3 4