Birth Control Debate Could Impact Races in Key Battleground States


pillimina

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner conducted a survey on behalf of EMILY’s List and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund to explore the impact of the birth control debate on voters in eight battleground Senate states. 

The debate on birth control provides a boost for Democratic candidates who support access to birth control. In fact, nearly half of voters say that if their member of Congress supported the Blunt Amendment (which would have allowed employers to opt out of covering birth control), it would make them less likely to support him or her. A near consensus exists that women should have access to birth control, that insurers should cover it, and that the decision to use birth control is a private one.

Key Findings

  • By wide margins, battleground voters believe that Democrats do a better job on access to birth control, women’s health issues, and abortion. While they give the Republicans an advantage on protecting religious freedom, voters are split on which party would respect their individual religious faith.
  • Voters strongly oppose the Blunt Amendment. A majority believe that religiously affiliated hospitals and colleges should not have a religious exemption. Nearly half say that they would be less likely to support a candidate for office if he or she supported the Blunt Amendment, including a majority of Independents.
  • Access to birth control has the potential to impact actual races. As a starting point, in this battleground, a generic Republican leads a generic Democrat by 5 point. In a generic informed match-up between a Democrat and a Republican given to half the sample, the Democrat trails. The other half sample received the same information with language about birth control, and the candidates are tied.
  • Voters object to a wide range of attacks on access to healthcare and contraception occurring at the federal and state levels. Moreover, they strongly oppose attempts to defund Planned Parenthood.
  • Nearly two thirds oppose prohibiting Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds to pay for birth control, maternity care, and cancer screenings; most oppose it even when it is specified that some clinics provide abortion services. More generally, voters oppose eliminating federal Title X funding for health clinics that provide services - including access to birth control - to low income women.
  • Over half oppose so-called conscience clauses for pharmacists and health providers to opt out of prescribing and filling prescriptions for birth control, support requiring an employer to provide coverage for birth control through their insurance plans, and would allow women to get emergency contraception over the counter without a prescription.
  • Even on issues related to abortion, the electorate is divided; voters split evenly on a conscience clause when it includes abortion and undergoing an ultrasound prior to having an abortion, though a majority opposes an “invasive” ultrasound similar to what was proposed in Virginia.