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. Tina

    Abortion is a LEGAL medical procedure and should be covered by insurance regordless of whether the woman received subsidies to pay for the insurance or not.

    November 18, 2009 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  2. katiec

    Do not believe you will find many who think abortion should be paid for with government funding. What is so disturbing is the stipulation in the house bill that states anyone receiving government funds cannot purchase insurance for abortion with their own private money.
    Quite frankly did not know there was insurance out there for abortion, and cannot imagine it being a priority for anyone, but that should
    be an individual, not a government choice.
    While being a difficult decision, abortion is legal and the government has no right to tell a person what they can and cannot do with their body.

    November 18, 2009 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  3. Dave From Philly

    Pro-Lifers need to get a life.

    November 18, 2009 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  4. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Actually, only a minority, and a shrinking one at that, are dumb enough to support this imbecilic health care welfare scheme at all, regardless of the abortion issue.

    November 18, 2009 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  5. mjm

    There won't be funding for abortion...or any other health care.

    Medicare covers about 40-50 million people and it's going broke.

    Expanding coverage to millions more just means the system will go broke sooner.

    November 18, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  6. Bluebonnet

    That is an absolute crock of crap!

    November 18, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  7. George

    Maybe if all the money spent by the right wing dings to fight health care reform were donated to free clinics, health care reform might not be an issue. Millions, maybe billions are being spent to move America backwards, so why not spent that on the uninsured? Sorry I forgot that the right can't stand being right. Silly me. The party of NO, doesn't like the poor, but still working people to survive.They won't even help working people with 3 jobs that still can not afford decent health care. Will one of you wackos please explain to America, what values you do have?

    November 18, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  8. Black Viper

    Pro Life
    Pro war
    Anti healthcare
    Please give me a break. This people makes me puke.

    November 18, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  9. Christine

    I do not believe this story for one second. I don't believe the American people want to fund killing unborn infants. If you don't want kids.. use protection or abstinance, not my tax money.

    November 18, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  10. Mike

    I'm all for reforming health care but I do not want to fund abortions. That is just wrong.

    November 18, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  11. Adrian

    I'm sure that if you poll enough of the "right" people, the results would indicate that the public believes minorities don't deserve equal rights, and that the Ten Commandments should replace the Constitution. A majority (i.e. mob mentality) is not enough...not when such a verdict contradicts the Constitution in any way. Even if 90% of the poplulation disagrees with something, if it is a matter of the Constitution vs. an extremist or fundamentalist ideology the Constitution wins. At least, in a civilized 21st century nation it does.

    November 18, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  12. Amy, Kazoo

    But it's ok to take my tax dollars and use it for capital punishment. You can't use religion to say something is wrong and it's murder and then ignore it when you want to use it for criminals. Murder doesn't have different meanings.

    November 18, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  13. Jeff in Houston

    Absolutely no one has the right to dictate what a woman does with her body. No one. Cattle are forced to breed, not humans. I know of no woman the claps with glee at the idea of having an abortion. It is a decision that is extremely personal and emotionally profound. We all need to GET OUt of other people's business and let women make the decisions in private with their physicians.

    As an aside, here are some other facts we need to face: People are going to continue to have sex; put your holy books away and get over it. The planet is overpopulated; we do nto need one more mouth to feed. And, this is at least one thing you cannot blame on those evil homosexuals. Maybe their idea is the future if we keep acting as irresponsibly as we have been.

    May we please live a life based on reason and education, not doctrine and mythology? Before its too late?

    November 18, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  14. Connie, Indiana

    This is becoming placing restrictions on a legal procedure. I don't see where the problem is if it paid out of their own pockets..It is a way of the "government" rationing care because of some political views..If this continues, what you will be seeing is "back alley butchers", and then what will they say..Why are these so called "pro-life" people not concerned with life out of the womb??? It is time to put this subject to rest..enuff. This country is in a mess, and the big topic is "abortion"..to hell with the economy, jobs, health insurance reform, wars etc, and what is the main topic "abortion", the priorities are all out of wack..

    November 18, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  15. Zach K

    I'm a Democrat, and as well Pro Choice.

    However, it wouldn't hurt if funding wasn't included in the bill. I mean, denistry coverage is seperate from healthcare, and so is abortions.

    November 18, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  16. Heather

    It never ceases to amaze me how the liberal media (including CNN) always uses the most outlandish photos to portray any conservative, be they pro-life, anti-tax, supporters of our war effort, etc.

    In spite of the fact that an enormous number of these conservatives are well-dressed, completely normal middle-class Americans, the only photos of conservatives used by the liberal media are those of nearly psychotic-looking people in outdated & sloppy clothing, with a wild hairstyle & facial expression.

    It's incredibly transparent, CNN, as is your continual refusal to post conservative comments. You must think Americans are merely stupid sheep who cannot see through your methods. So sad. And you call yourselves "objective journalists." Um...yeah right.

    November 18, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  17. phoenix86

    Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama DO NOT CARE what the majority of Americans want. They want to ram this far-left fringe monstrosity down America's throat.

    Welcome to the liberal side of democracy.

    November 18, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  18. Keith in Austin

    To bad the progressive liberals don't give a hoot about what the majority of Americans want!

    November 18, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  19. Gale

    Yep, pro lifers, if you don't agree with us, we will kill you!!

    November 18, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  20. Melissa

    Uh huh. How nice that nobody gives a crap about the women and that none of them give a crap about an unwanted baby once its born. Hypocrites.

    November 18, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  21. Bob in Pa

    When are the elitists in power going to realize that someone taking control and responsibility for their own lives is a very ,very good thing.

    November 18, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  22. Jamie

    This is a divisive issue, I support the amendment that Pelosi introduced and it's 'Mad Men' conspiracy led to it being taken out. But I can live with that as long as it stays safe and legal. What I can't live with is not fully funding contraception, something insurance companies have been and are currently cutting back their coverage of this more and more. That is a travesty against American women!!!

    November 18, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  23. Nobodys Perfecft

    There are many reasons for an abortion. So to just say NO to having health insurance, either federally funded or private, pay for one is too limiting. What if this is a case of rape? Or what if the doctor recommends it due to health issues – either of the mother or the child? CNN didn't poll me ... so count my vote now to allow abortion funding.

    November 18, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  24. Tom C

    Thank you democrats for not allowing any of my tax dollars for funding abortions. What I can't understand is why the republicans are supporting these democrats that have voted against abortion. Gees, you do something that the conservatives strongly believe in and their is a deafening silence from the repubs. Just goes to show you they are the party of no.

    November 18, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  25. th

    If someone has insurance that they are paying for themselves they have the right to do what they want. Other people have no business telling someone what they can and cannot do.

    November 18, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
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