Has abortion role been overblown in U.S. healthcare debate?

November 19, 2009

A new poll by the Pew Research Center and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life suggests that concern about federal funding for abortion is very low on the list of factors driving opposition to President Barack Obama’s effort to overhaul America’s healthcare system.


The results of the poll, released on Thursday, show that just 3 percent of healthcare opponents cited abortion funding as their main reason for opposing congressional healthcare proposals.

The biggest reasons, cited by 27 percent of respondents to an open-ended question about their opposition, were that the overhaul would be too expensive and lead to higher deficits and taxes. Another 27 percent said they did not want government involvement in healthcare.

The nationwide poll of more than 1,000 Americans was conducted from Nov. 12 to 15.

The poll’s publication comes as the U.S. Senate prepares to begin debate on its version of a healthcare bill that does not include language approved earlier this month by the House that would strengthen the existing prohibition on using federal funds for abortion.

Many analysts say the abortion issue — which has been fanned by conservative evangelicals associated with the Republican Party and Catholic clergy whose flock lean to the Democratic Party — threatens to unravel Obama’s top domestic priority.

But the Pew poll highlights its apparently minor role in stirring opposition to the healthcare push which aims, among other things, to expand coverage to tens of millions of Americans who lack health insurance.

Has this hornet’s nest been opened by a vocal but very small minority of the U.S. public, which would appear to have more pressing concerns when it comes to healthcare?

Photo credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (Anti-abortion activist wears mirrored sunglasses and a piece of tape over his mouth in Washington, June 1, 2009)


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Has abortion been overblown in the US Health Care debate? I don’t think so. In the article you mentioned the Pew Research Center indicates that most Americans continue to oppose public funding of elective abortions, yet the present administration continues to push for its inclusion in the Health Care Reform Bill. Why? Abortion is an elective surgical procedure. Providing “comprehensive reproductive health care” is the verbage used to disguise abortion coverage in the bill. The planned deception of the American people with regard to this issue is becoming more and more obvious, and thus it has become the “hornet’s nest”. Enough. Tax dollars are needed for true health and healing. In addition, if “concern about federal funding is so low on the list of factors driving opposition to President Barack Obama’s effort to overhaul America’s health care system, why did the Health Care Reform Bill need the addition of the bipartisan Stupak-Pitts Amendment in order to pass it in the House?

Posted by Betsy | Report as abusive

In the usual response from the right you get…. We don’t want Abortion, no matter how early it is done. So now you have a child who’s mother did not want him or her in the first place dammed and on welfare. You did not want to pay for the early elective abortion so now you HAVE to pay for the the Childs welfare for the next 18 years…oops wait you don’t want to pay for welfare either nor do you want any child left behind. Just like this economy you screwed up the last 8 years and now you spend all your time telling US how to fix it. Get a grip and keep your choices and faith to yourself, it’s unsolicited and not wanted by the majority of Americans.

Posted by Ray | Report as abusive

The abortion issue is not as big I feel because it’s overshadowed by all of the other garbage in these proposed bills that most Americans oppose. Whether left, right or anywhere in between, all of us should want “real reform”.The Senate’s bill potentially being debated does not reform the healthcare system because it does nothing to stop and/or reverse the rising costs of healthcare. The bill is completely illogical. How can you bring millions more into the system if you don’t have a base of doctors large enough to treat everyone? Have a look at the failed healthcare reform laws in Massachusetts. Costs have skyrocketed and doctors have closed their practice to new patients. People are going to the emergency room for treatment because they can’t find a doctor. Obama’s healthcare plans are a mirror of this.Cutting Medicare isn’t any incentive for Doctors to open their practice to new patients nor would this type of system encourage anyone to want to be a doctor. Raising taxes on individuals/ businesses and creating legislation that will undisputedly cause private insurance premiums to skyrocket in short time does not make coverage more accessible or affordable. Penalizing someone who won’t buy insurance a $750 unenforceable fine isn’t going to make them buy insurance either. They will buy insurance when something goes wrong and cancel it after their treated. Subsidies given to help people buy insurance won’t put a dent in their ability to buy it if the premiums are going through the roof.We don’t have to be affiliated with any political party to see the primary purpose for this type of legislation is a stepping stone into the gov’t taking over the entire healthcare system as a single payor. This is purely a battle of political power amongst parties that neither of which, represent the voice of the American people.If we could afford a single payor system, maintain quality care, provide enough doctors and had a responsible, accountable gov’t…then fine. However, we don’t and the govt could tax everyone at 100% and they still couldn’t pay for it.I’m not affiliated with any political party. One thing I do understand though is the problem with socialistic ideaology is that eventually the gov’t runs out of someone else’s money.

Posted by dvm | Report as abusive

No one has the right to kill a child. There are other options available.

Posted by Les | Report as abusive

america has become the dumbest country in the world – and proud of it.

Posted by d | Report as abusive

I grew up in time when abortion wasn’t legal,One of my friends was pregnant and wanted this child more than anything but at five months it died she had to carry that that dead baby for three long months even though it was dead,because of infection and scaring she could not have another child.These are the kind of things that go on and no one seems to want to talk about the true reasons for abortion rights just as long as they can use it as a wedge between health care and people that need help,that suffer everyday with choices that could kill them,cutting meds because they can’t afford them or just not buying them at all,So every time you are for something or against something the least we can do is study the subject,read use the internet find out how your views and your actions affect other people lives,and keep in mind that these are other people souls not yours.

Posted by Billie | Report as abusive

Of course abortion has been way overblown. The facts are that abortion in this country had as many last year as 30 years ago but we have a 100 million more people. The trend line has been pointing downward all the time. The actual number of people affected in one way or the other is far less than 1 percent of the population. Women don’t just get abortions because they can and women will get abortions if they want one anyway they can. If we had stressed birth control with real solutions unless of the idiot policy of just saying to avoid sex the numbers would be far less than that. There is absolutely no reason for a woman to get pregnant that doesn’t want to.

Posted by MJJP | Report as abusive

Pew’s identification of abortion as the main issue is not an accurate measure of the importance of the issue of abortion to the health care debate. A more accurate measure would be to ask a simple question. Would you support a bill that would have your taxes pay for medicaly unnecessary abortions. I am certian that the majority would vote NO!

Posted by Rich Rosche | Report as abusive