There has been a slight increase in negative feelings about Planned Parenthood, but half of Americans retain a favorable opinion
The “sting” video that surfaced last month of a Planned Parenthood official discussing the use of aborted fetal organs for medical research seems to have had relatively little impact either on views of abortion or of Planned Parenthood in general, according to a new YouGov Poll. Half the public retains positive impressions of the organization, though negative views have risen.
Those with a favorable view of the organization and those with a negative view describe it very differently. Asked what services they associate with Planned Parenthood – and given up to three choices – the opponents of Planned Parenthood overwhelmingly think of it as an abortion provider. For supporters, the image is quite different. More cite the organization’s role in providing contraception, sex education and pregnancy testing than see it as an abortion provider.
There are large gender and political differences in how Americans see Planned Parenthood. Women have positive views while men are divided. Democrats are overwhelmingly favorable; Republicans are not. Young adults have very different views from senior citizens.
There are differences, too, when it comes to the issue of abortion, which has divided the country for many years. The video seems not to have moved many people and the overall opinion of abortion is similar to what it was two years ago. Americans are almost evenly divided on whether it should be generally legal or generally illegal, though most who say it should be legal want some restrictions, and most of those who want it illegal believe it should be available at least in a few cases.
Women (22%) are nearly twice as likely as men (12%) to say abortion should always be legal. And while seven in ten Republicans say abortion should be illegal, most Republicans also say it should at least be permitted in special circumstances.
As for the video, Planned Parenthood opponents are more likely than Planned Parenthood supporters to say they have seen it. 89% of those with unfavorable opinions of Planned Parenthood have heard at least a little about the video (more than half have heard a lot); 42% have seen it. Only 61% of those with a favorable view of Planned Parenthood have heard even a little about the video, and only 20% have seen it.
Opinion of the video and whether Planned Parenthood broke the law is closely divided, and basically matches the opinion Americans hold of Planned Parenthood and abortion. Nearly all (80%) of those who have heard of the controversy and who like Planned Parenthood say it did not break the law; nearly all (85%) of those with unfavorable opinions of the group and knowledge of the video think it did.