What do people actually think of Planned Parenthood?

After activists who oppose women being able to choose abortion began to release edited tapes aimed at undermining Planned Parenthood, you might wonder what people think of the group now.

Planned Parenthood is seen more positively than negatively

Surveys by YouGov, taken over time, show rather stable views toward the group, with small declines in favorabilities.

Screenshot 2015-08-05 20.15.29As you’d expect, there are differences in the population.

  • Women see Planned Parenthood more positively than men, although men are split and a bit more favorable than unfavorable.
  • 63% of Republicans see the group unfavorably, less than the percentage of Democrats who see Planned Parenthood favorably (74%). Independents, which are not shown in the graph below, but can be seen in the chart of the full results are more favorable (45%) than unfavorable (39%).
  • Young people see the group favorably, while seniors do not.

Screenshot 2015-08-05 20.23.36

Compared to all presidential candidates and other groups, Planned Parenthood is seen as the most favorable.

That’s the finding from a recent NBC/Wall St. Journal poll, released after a number of the tapes from the group that wants Congress to defund Planned Parenthood.

While, of course there are variations depending on what party people associate themselves with, Planned Parenthood is seen the most positively. 45% in this poll see it positively, and it has a net +15 (positive to negative) rating.

Both political parties are seen less positively, with Democrats seen positively by 38% (and negatively by 38%) and the Republican party seen positively by 28% and negatively by 44%.


NBC/Wall St Journal poll

NBC/Wall St Journal poll, 7/26/15-7/30/15, 1000 likely voters

Why has Planned Parenthood retained its favorability?

It’s likely a combination of factors.

One is that so many Americans have used Planned Parenthood themselves for its core services of contraception, cancer screening and STD testing.

Another is that fetal tissue research is delivering promising results for people with terrible diseases like ALS and MS, and this research has had broad bipartisan support. (By the way, if you’ve ever had a polio vaccine, you benefited from fetal tissue research, since it was used to develop the vaccine. If you want lots of detail, a Right to Life group from Michigan provides lots of information about vaccines and fetal tissue research.)

Among today’s Republican presidential candidates and the party’s prominent leaders, quite a lot of them support or supported fetal tissue research. Former GOP Majority Leader Sen. Bob Dole called supporting this research “the true pro-life position.”

Abortion is not a rare procedure, with one out of three women in America having chosen it. If you think of how many of those women have men who supported them at the time, as well as friends and family members, it adds up to quite a lot of people.

Finally, hard core anti-abortion attitudes are distinctly the minority viewpoint in the U.S., compared to people who want legal abortion available in all circumstances and the plurality viewpoint of those who want it legal in some circumstances. You can see that in the below graph from Gallup where the bottom line is for “illegal in all circumstances.”

Screenshot 2015-08-05 21.25.26


Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.