Planned Parenthood controversy: Are Americans ready to cut funding?

Hardline GOP lawmakers have threatened government shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding. But are Americans on board?

Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards is sworn in before testifying at a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Hearing on 'Planned Parenthood's Taxpayer Funding,' in Washington, on Tuesday.

A robust majority of Americans support providing federal funding for Planned Parenthood and oppose shutting down the government over funding for the organization, according to four independent polls released this week.

Sixty-five percent of respondents told pollsters they believe the government should continue to provide Planned Parenthood with federal funding for free women's health exams, screenings, and contraceptive services, while 29 percent opposed it, according to a USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll released Tuesday. Similar polls conducted by Quinnipiac University, NBC and The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times and CBS all found similar support for maintaining Planned Parenthood's federal funding.

Noticeably, attitudes about the healthcare non-profit-making group remain unchanged months after a video was released of a Planned Parenthood staffer discussing fetal tissue donation with someone claiming to represent a medical company.

Though Americans have a favorable opinion of Planned Parenthood, the Suffolk University survey found a sharp partisan divide, 91 percent of Democrats support federal funding for the organization, while 59 percent of Republicans say those funds should be stopped.

Since the controversial video was released this summer, republican lawmakers began a plan to defund Planned Parenthood and have promised to force a federal government shutdown this week if all federal cash to the organization is not stopped.

The Christian Science Monitor reported that Congress has until midnight Wednesday night to pass a budget bill that will keep the government funded. Republican hardliners have been looking to force a government shutdown if Planned Parenthood isn’t defunded.  

Chances of a shutdown have decreased since Friday, when House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio announced that he will be stepping down the end of October. That means leaders in congress may still push through a “clean” short-term budget that would maintain the organization’s funding but also keep the government open, as the Monitor reported.

An investigation conducted by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has found no evidence that a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis illegally handled fetal tissue.

“The evidence reviewed by my investigators supports Planned Parenthood’s representation that fetal tissue is handled in accordance with Missouri law,” Koster said in the statement. “We have discovered no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis facility is selling fetal tissue.”

Speaking before a US House committee on Tuesday, Planned Parenthood's president Cecile Richards said the group goes "beyond the requirements of the law" when handling fetal tissue donations and said accusers who claim otherwise are "categorically wrong."

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