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. hockeybear

    Isn't this illegal? The last time I checked, abortions in the US are legal. And, current private health care companies already cover abortions so why not the public plan? The religious nuts are just trying to get their grubby little mitts into government little by little so they can push their pro-life agenda. Stay out of my life and I'll stay out of your churches.

    November 18, 2009 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  2. lieNoMore

    4 out of 5 Americans are braindead too so what? Do any of these morons who answered this question believe we even have a Constitution?? Abortion is legal in the US no matter what the religious conservatives (Taliban) here want people to think.

    Where do you draw the line on stupidity like this? Medical procedures THAT ARE LEGAL should be part of any bill that our taxes pay for. If you don't like one of those procedures or it is against your religious beliefs fine, but shut up and DONT HAVE IT.

    November 18, 2009 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  3. MS Redhead

    While I am pro-choice, taxpayers should NOT be required to pay for abortions–or vasectomies. Women AND men need to take responsibility for their own decisions–good or bad–regarding their lifestyle and healthcare choices.

    November 18, 2009 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  4. Good for America

    I am glad that my money will not pay for murder (abortion)!

    November 18, 2009 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  5. 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 not 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 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  6. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Why this one issue is so divisive I don't think that I will fully understand. People need to learn to be more than 1 issue voters.

    November 18, 2009 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  7. Marty, Grand Rapids MI

    I read the house amendment. It seems reasonable. I think if paying for abortions were included in the healthcare, we would be encouraging them when we should be discouraging them (it would be, if you will, pro abortion, which being pro choice is not). Instead, money would be better spent providing free contraceptives, increasing the availability of contraceptives and increasing sex education.

    The religious right is just as responsible for the abortion rate in the US by clinging to the failure of abstinence only education and blocking attempts to increase availability and education of contraceptives.

    November 18, 2009 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  8. smiff

    Really? Not liberal ENOUGH? Is abortion a particular evolutionary quirk peculiar to humans or readily observed in nature? Your polls, science, so called religion, and reporting of facts are on par with social tendencies......not reason or accuracy! Abortion is a convenience item ,like air conditioning,not like chemo. Amazing how convenient things become necessities when they are easier to get.....like entertainment. Neither the religion (true) of the day nor the science that supposedly got us here supports any such conveniences as necessities.

    November 18, 2009 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  9. Pee Wee

    Of course they do. Proponents of abortion are acting like the legislation is going to outlaw the procedure. Not true, if you want one, you pay for it. It's an elective procedure, sort of like face-lifts or breast augmentation.

    I don't think 'enhancements' should be publicly funded, do you?

    If you don't agree that it's elective, drop the phrase "pro-choice" from your vernacular, then maybe we'll be near a starting point for rational discussion.

    Did anyone else think it was totally absurd when Nancy Pelosi made the statement about not having to worry that being a woman is a pre-existing condition?

    Thee idiots run around acting like signing this stupid bill is going to prevent death and guarantee all eternal life. Maybe in the mind of Pelosi it will.

    November 18, 2009 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  10. CNN afraid of a liberal post

    OK so there already was a ban. Why did they put it in the health care bill. Only to further control women. The men responsible are the C Street crowd. The ones who want to control everything.

    I would love for congress to pass a bill that would force a vasectomy on men who cause unwanted pregnancies. That way they couldn't get women pregnant and these women wouldn't want an abortion. Of course the rich old mostly republican men couldn't get anybody pregnant so it wouldn't matter to them. They are just jealous of those who can.

    November 18, 2009 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  11. File under "Sarcasm"

    Too bad that, as stated by David Axelrod, the liberal Democrats will pull such a restriction out of any bill that's passed when it goes to the House Senate reconciliation conference. It was a great ploy to get conservative House Democrats to vote for Pelosi's bill, however.

    November 18, 2009 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  12. southerncousin

    Is this a surprise to the liberals and liberal media? They have a weird unconnected way of looking at the world, they mistake people believing lies that politicians like Obama, Pelosi and Reid tell as support for their agendas. They are grossly unfair and hateful (e.g. Associated Press hires 11 fact checkers to report on Palins book, none for Obamas. Liberals have this hateful way of looking at the world and misunderstanding it.

    November 18, 2009 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  13. Jeff

    "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."

    They also don't realize that this will encourage employers to employ fewer people for the same amount of work (even if they do compensate them for their extra work), or hire part timers and give them just enough hours to not be required to provided a health service-plan if there is a threshold.

    But they're not so sure if they are willing to buy it themselves – they only want it if someone else will pay for it. I for one support requiring neither. If your employer wants to provide it, or you want to buy it, go ahead. If not, don't – but don't ask the rest of us to cover you when you need it.

    November 18, 2009 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  14. Robert the Man

    Obviously Glen Quagmire was not polled. FIXED POLL!!!

    November 18, 2009 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  15. Susan

    Then is there a Viagra ban? Can't have one without the other.

    November 18, 2009 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  16. Ray E.

    The whole Heath Bill need to be returned to the States and get the Federal Government out of it. The U.S. Constitution never gave the Congress the right to take money from one person and give it to another. And no the taxpayer shouldn't be paying for abortions!

    November 18, 2009 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  17. George

    Then will the GOP stop paying for their employees abortions? They say they will, but they are not friends of truth.
    They are the death panel. Anyone that puts dollars ahead of life, better remember right to life in America should go past the womb. The grand obstructionist party will do anything for a dollar. They will even fight legislation that will give all right to life. They are using ignorant uneducated people as pawns by the super wealthy. They throw God and Guns at them and they run with the bait. I would hope that God would not want people to die because of greed in a country as great as America. We give to the world, and ignore our own. Maybe some of you cheap GOPers may want to donate to the free health clinics sponsared by MSNBC. It could help clear your conscience if you have any.

    November 18, 2009 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  18. ran

    If this poll is like all the others using only land lines then it will not now or in the future truly reflect the will of the people because those under 40 yoa have cell phones only. The age limit might even be higher.

    CNN and others doing polls need to redo their process.

    November 18, 2009 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  19. Tram

    That poll's wrong.

    November 18, 2009 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  20. Fed Up

    Doesn't matter what we want. Pelosi is going to give us what SHE wants, as SHE has said many times.

    November 18, 2009 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  21. SCMom

    I understand that many people feel very strongly for, and against, the right to choose. However, as it stands, abortion is legal. Completely and totally legal. Our government has no business determining what LEGAL procedures our healthcare should or should not include. You can not like it all you want, you can find it morally and ethically reprehensible, yet it is still legal. Unless that changes, it should be covered the same way any medical procedure is. Our elected officials in the House should be ashamed of themselves.

    November 18, 2009 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  22. Rob DePour

    I love it!!! This is great!!!! None of these people seem to realize that the money deducted from their paychecks for health insurance along with the premiums and deductibles they pay are used to pay doctors who perform abortions. Of course, the government must never do what the private sector does everyday so we should just keep giving our money to corporations who are not held accountable for anything they do. This is so much better than providing health care to thousands of slobs who don't even have any money. Great !!!! I love Americans and their misapplication of morality!!! It means more money for me and my HMO buddies!!!

    November 18, 2009 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  23. seebofubar

    And the other 4 out of 10 dont mind helping to pay for someone to kill a human being? Isn't that kind of like hiring a hit man? Only God has the right to give and take away life. We as a nation have abandoned the laws given to us. We cannot call ourselvs civilized until we abandon this barbaric practice!

    November 18, 2009 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  24. JP

    If a woman can't afford an abortion the government should pay for it. Its better than paying for food stamps, welfare, and possibly prision. Pregnant illegals should be deported.

    November 18, 2009 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  25. Richard

    The poll shoud have gone ahead and asked the person that was against federal funds to provide abortions if they wanted to support, through welfare, the child being born because the mom could not afford an abortion. Also on the question of whether a private health insurance should pay for an abortion, the poll should have the selections: yes, no, and it is none of my business. The latter is the situation here. I get tired of people who are totally removed from the situation and have no idea about the consequences, thinking they can make decisions about what people deserve and need.

    November 18, 2009 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
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