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Key Findings on Public Attitudes on Family Planning

Sponsor: Lake Research Partners, National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, Communications Consortium Media Center
Released: 2011-05

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Americans strongly believe in the importance of family planning services as a basic preventive measure. This sentiment crosses all demographic and political lines and rises to the level of a core value.

Americans see the birth control pill as one of the most important medical breakthroughs that has significantly impacted and improved women’s lives. They also see family planning services and birth control in general as necessary for women to achieve equality.

Americans view the birth control pill as they do other preventive measures like vaccines and medication for blood pressure and cholesterol. Additionally, they believe it should be covered by insurance, just like any other preventive health care medication.

Support for maintaining access to family planning outweighs arguments on the current budget crisis. In an engaged debate, by a margin of roughly two to one, Americans side with the view that everyone has a right to safe, affordable family planning services over the opposing position that with today’s budget crisis we should not be spending taxpayer money on family planning services. This sentiment is consistent across most demographic groups.

A significant proportion of Americans are willing to penalize elected officials for voting to defund family planning programs. Four in ten Americans say they would be less likely to support their member of Congress should he or she vote this way. College educated women and Democrats are particularly likely to penalize elected officials for their votes on this issue.

Americans are tired of the contentious, polarizing abortion debate. There is considerable consensus around getting away from the focus on abortion and having a broader discussion on reproductive health, which includes birth control, comprehensive sex education, and improving maternal and childbirth outcomes. There is broad consensus across demographic and political groups.