The Washington Post reports today unfavorable support for shutting down the government over Planned Parenthood spending:
- 69% of voters would oppose a government shutdown over PP, and only 23% would support it
- 59% of Republicans oppose a shutdown over PP
These numbers do not bode well for congressional GOP members who want to push forward a shutdown over PP funding. Although 71% of Republicans agree with stopping federal funding of Planned Parenthood, it still is met with strong support from Democrats (82% support) and Independents (56% support). 60% of women voters support federal funding, with only 34% opposing – a difference of 26%.
Why do these numbers exist? I argue that it is due to Planned Parenthood and the left winning the communication war on this issue. The left has made the “women’s health” narrative a staple talking point for the last decade, and have successfully tied Planned Parenthood as a whole to women’s health. Defunding Planned Parenthood is synonymous with defunding women’s health services regardless of the facts.
We know this much already. We can clearly see how whenever PP is pushed on particularly barbaric acts – such as harvesting brains from living fetuses – they dodge the issue and instead focus on their services broadly. PP is successfully able to do this because we focus on defunding them in their entirety instead of focusing on late-term abortions. This allows them to defend themselves in their entirety instead of focusing on late-term abortions. And if recent poll numbers are to be believed, that’s a fight that they are poised to win.
However, there is a silver lining here if one looks close enough. There’s a reason why PP avoids discussing late-term abortions and instead focuses on “women’s health”. That’s because PP cannot win a fight aimed at late term abortions. As NR’s Charles C. Cooke points out, look at how drastically different this polling data is:
- 61% of Americans support first-trimester abortions
- Only 27% support second-trimester abortions
- Even less (14%) support third-trimester abortions
Planned Parenthood dominates the conversation by appealing to that first group, while desperately trying to ignore that they lose half of their support if the conversation switches to the second trimester. Whenever the media brings up late-term abortions, they only focus on the most tragic circumstances – profoundly disabled or terminally ill fetuses. They ignore the existence of for-demand late-term abortions of healthy fetuses because they cannot win on that point. We can’t let them do that anymore. There are even pro-life allies on the left that argue this exact point:
The 20-week ban is not radical. As many senators pointed out this week, the U.S. is one of seven countries that allow late-term abortion. We are one of the few developed nations that do not ban abortion beyond 20 weeks. This is a moral impasse for one of the richest countries: not to stand up for the unborn, considering that we have the means to provide additional help to parents as needed.
Shutting down the government over PP funding is going to be incredibly difficult and the public opinion is against us – and it allows PP to continue to frame the debate as a war against women’s health.
However, shutting down the government over late-term abortions? Shutting it down over the Senate Democrats not even allowing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to be debated? Shutting it down to stop the US from being one of seven countries that allows late-term abortions? Shutting it down over a stance that 73% of the country disagrees with? That’s a fight that we can win.
Planned Parenthood will be unable to stay silent on this fight – and they will be forced to speak in favor of an issue that is unpalatable to a vast majority of Americans. It will force them to tie themselves to late-term abortions specifically, and they will be unable to do so under the guise of women’s health. After they are weakened by publicly defending late-term abortions, stopping federal funds to them will seem much more reasonable to the rest of the nation.