Even Pro-Choicers Find Democratic Abortion Platform Radical

Poll finds 60 percent of pro-choice Americans back ‘substantial restrictions’

Pro-choice voter Melissa Vincett attends a Clinton campaign event / AP
• July 25, 2016 1:06 pm


A new poll finds that the Democratic Party platform on abortion is at odds not only with the vast majority of voters but also the large swath of Americans who identify as "pro-choice."

The Marist poll, paid for by a pro-life group, found that nearly 80 percent of Americans support "substantial restrictions" that would limit abortion to the first trimester. More than 60 percent of self-identified "pro-choice" respondents "would limit it to, at most, the first three months of pregnancy," according to a release.

Voters are also wary of taxpayer funding of abortion. More than 60 percent of Americans, including 44 percent of Democrats, oppose government payments to abortion clinics.

The proposed Democratic Party platform supports taxpayer funding for abortion. The platform committee endorsed the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which blocks the use of tax dollars to pay for abortions. The party vowed to maintain funding for the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, which receives roughly $500 million, or about 40 percent of its annual revenue, from taxpayers.

"We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment," the proposed platform says. "We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers."

Presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton was the first candidate to win Planned Parenthood’s endorsement in the primary. Her campaign has paid the group thousands of dollars for staff time and volunteer reimbursement. Clinton also has a 100 percent rating from NARAL, the pro-abortion advocacy group, and voted against banning partial birth abortion.

However, Clinton has distanced herself from hardline positions on abortion on the campaign trail, coming out against partial birth abortion on MSNBC in September. Clinton said she would support "late pregnancy regulation that would have exceptions for the life and health of the mother" in a Fox News town hall in March, while her opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) endorsed total support for abortion at any stage.

The poll also asked Americans about recent developments in the abortion debate. Seventy-eight percent of respondents backed safety regulations passed in Texas that required abortion clinics to have hospital admitting privileges and maintain safety standards on par with outpatient surgical centers. The Supreme Court struck down the regulations in June.

"About three quarters of those who identify as pro-choice (74 percent) agree [to safety standards], as do strong majorities regardless of party affiliation," the release said. "Pro-life and pro-choice adherents are also equally likely to support [the hospital admission] requirement at a rate of 7 in 10 for each group (71 percent)."

More than half of respondents—56 percent, including 40 percent of pro-choicers—backed conscience protections for doctors and employers. Only 37 percent of respondents opposed conscience protections.

The Obama administration approved a California measure in June that would require all health insurance providers in the state to cover elective abortion, prompting concerns from pro-life employers. The House of Representatives passed the Conscience Protection Act 245-182 on July 13 to protect pro-life health care entities from the abortion mandate. President Obama has promised to veto the bill.

The poll surveyed more than 1,000 Americans between July 5 and July 12—right around the time the Democratic Party released the draft platform. It was commissioned by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal and charity organization.

"The American people have spoken clearly on their desire for abortion restrictions, less taxpayer funding of it, and common sense regulations on this industry to protect women’s health," Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson said in a release.

Pro-choice groups called for a more vocal debate on abortion in the primary and general elections throughout the 2016 campaign. The Susan B. Anthony List, which supports pro-life candidates, agreed that more debate is needed, saying it could end up hurting Democrats whose views on abortion are outside the mainstream of American public opinion.

"The Democratic Party and its leaders are moving further and further away from the American people," spokeswoman Mallory Quigley said. "Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine and the abortion lobby are pushing Democrats to be further extreme on abortion."

Democratic delegates will vote to approve the official platform at the convention on Monday.