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