Fox News viewers got a dose of reality this week when Hard News Anchor™ Bret Baier and reporter Shannon Bream delivered a thorough report on Fox News’ own poll showing Americans’ attitudes toward Planned Parenthood in the wake of the smear campaign against them. I’m mesing with you! Baier introduced the package with the nonsense phrase “fetal tissue remains,” and Bream cherry–picked the poll to make it seem like Americans just can’t make up their minds about the issue, mostly because of those ‘bortion-loving Democrats. Here is every citation of that poll that were included in the report (which was the only time the poll was mentioned on Fox):
“A new fox News poll shows Americans evenly divided on the issue of abortion, with 47% calling themselves pro-choice versus 46% who say they’re pro-life…
“49% who say they are familiar with the videos find them disturbing and say the harvesting of aborted fetal remains should be stopped. 48% say while they find them disturbing fetal tissue research should continue. The partisan divide is stark. 79% of Democrats believe the organization should get taxpayer dollars. while 72% of Republicans disagree.”
What Baier and Bream didn’t tell Fox News viewers, probably by accident and not because of any bias in their coverage, is that a majority of Americans, overall, favor federal funding for Planned Parenthood (52% yes, 42% no), and that Planned Parenthood is viewed favorably by 50% of Americans, versus only 38% unfavorable. This result is largely the same as that of a biased push-poll that came out a few months ago, when the videos first started coming out.
Things get even better for Planned Parenthood when you ask the people who would actually ever use their services. Federal funding for Planned Parenthood is favored by 55% of women, 79% of black Americans, and 62% of voters under the age of 35. In fact, and this is going to shock you, the only groups who didn’t favor funding by a clear majority or plurality were whites (46% yes-49% no) and voters over 65 (43%-45%). Even among men, more favored funding PP (49%) than cutting it off (46%).
These results, even after all of the efforts to push the anti-choice narrative, even after all the fugazi video stings, are almost exactly what they was in a poll conducted two years ago (53% fav-33% unfav), and three years ago. By an even wider margin, Americans have consistently opposed defunding Planned Parenthood, by as much as 69%. Planned Parenthood has also maintained this consistent level of support despite the fact that half of the people being asked do not even have vaginae.
These videos depict medical professionals speaking privately in candid terms that are shocking to laypeople, but which are normal to anyone who has ever actually spoken candidly with a medical professional. Yes, get them alone, and doctors and nurses are gross, because that’s how they can do their jobs. Yes, looking at fetal tissue is gross, but it is also legal to donate, and essential to life-saving research. That lady eating a salad has nothing to apologize for, except maybe to the people she was eating lunch with, who were lying to her. I have a great deal of respect for the beliefs that inform women’s choices, but I absolutely believe that within the law, those choices should be between a woman and her doctor, even if her doctor is gross to eat lunch with.
Abortion rights are a lot like fire extinguishers: the degree to which you care about them is directly proportionate to the degree to which you need them. That’s why there is such a soft middle on the subject of abortion rights. Many women, and many more men, can’t imagine why someone would need an abortion after twenty weeks, until they do (or until they need their wife or girlfriend to get one). It is that soft middle that is left to defend the right of a woman to choose, and these videos are designed to chip away at it.
Attacking Planned Parenthood has the added strategic advantage of allowing people who are moderately pro-choice to stay on the right side of that line, while making it awkward for them to defend the largest organization dedicated to protecting that freedom. If they succeed, though, they’re also ensuring that many more abortions will become necessary. Only three percent of PP’s activities are abortion-related, but they provide millions of women with birth control, cancer screening, and other services, services which other organizations and clinics don’t have the capacity to provide at that level.
The effort to defund Planned Parenthood is doomed to fail, but if Republicans are smart, they’ll stop believing Fox News, read the numbers for themselves, and drop it altogether. They’ve already got a lock on old-ass Testostero-Americans, all this will do is repel everyone else more than they already do.