Voters largely positive about Planned Parenthood, aware of its services

PRINCETON, N.J. As officials consider changes to Medicaid funding at the state and federal levels, and as Congress weighs health insurance reform, large majorities of New Jersey registered voters want to maintain federal and state funding for women’s reproductive health services for lower-income women, as well as current health insurance requirements related to such services. These results come from the latest poll in the New Jersey Health Matters series by the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute in partnership with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Results are from a statewide poll of 605 New Jersey registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points. A number of questions asked in this poll replicate a national March 2017 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll.

“New Jersey voters’ attitudes on women’s reproductive health largely reflect views nationwide,” said Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and assistant research professor at the Eagleton Institute of Politics. “Opinions about coverage requirements, funding for low-income women, and of Planned Parenthood moreover often cut across partisan lines in New Jersey, with support spanning a wide range of demographics.”

“We wanted to gauge the views of New Jersey voters to see how they value these reproductive health services — what services people should have access to and who should pay for those services,” said Linda Schwimmer, president and CEO of the Quality Institute. “The poll shows strong support among New Jersey voters to fund these services.”

Overwhelming support for funding health services for lower-income women

More than three-quarters of voters support state (78 percent) and federal funding (77 percent) for reproductive health services for lower-income women.

An even larger number – 84 percent – believe Medicaid should continue paying Planned Parenthood for reproductive health and preventative care services provided to people on Medicaid; voters were informed these funds cannot be used to pay for abortions. Sixteen percent, on the other hand, think all federal payments to Planned Parenthood should be stopped.

When those who initially believe payments should continue are told that Planned Parenthood does provide and refer women for abortions, even though no federal payment goes directly to abortion services, just 8 percent change their minds and want to stop all federal payments.

When those who are initially against federal payments are told that stopping them would make it difficult for many lower-income women to access certain health services, 39 percent change their minds and instead want to keep paying Planned Parenthood for non-abortion services.

Most deem reproductive health service requirements important

Three-quarters of Garden State voters believe it is “very” (53 percent) or “somewhat” (23 percent) important for health insurance plans to continue covering the cost of birth control with no out-of-pocket costs to the individual; this includes 43 percent of Republicans (14 percent “very,” 29 percent “somewhat”) and 44 percent of conservatives (19 percent “very,” 25 percent “somewhat”).

More than nine in 10 voters – including eight in 10 Republicans – also say it is “very” (85 percent overall, 63 percent among Republicans) or “somewhat” important (8 percent overall, 18 percent among Republicans) for insurance companies not to deny coverage to pregnant women. Similar numbers say the same about not charging women more than men for the same policy (94 percent overall, 85 percent among Republicans), and covering the cost of preventative health care such as mammograms and screenings for cervical cancer with no out-of-pocket costs to the individual (95 percent overall, 87 percent among Republicans).

A large majority (75 percent) also supports the current health care law’s requirement that private health insurance plans cover the full cost of birth control, including 42 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of conservatives. A plurality (42 percent) believe that the insurance company should pay for coverage of prescription birth control if an employer refuses due to religious objections; another 34 percent believe it is the woman’s own responsibility to pay for it, and 21 percent say it is the government’s duty.

“Access to these services is important from a quality and cost perspective,” said Schwimmer. “Helping women plan their pregnancies, have access to cancer screening, and treatment and prevention of STDs all influence the quality of an individual’s life as well as the overall health of New Jersey’s population. At the Quality Institute, we believe that providing these preventive services now will decrease future spending.”

Two-thirds favor Planned Parenthood

Sixty-five percent voters have a favorable view of Planned Parenthood, 17 percent are unfavorable toward the organization, and another 17 percent have no opinion; 1 percent are unsure.

Favorable impressions of Planned Parenthood are widespread. Even a number of Republican voters (30 percent) hold positive views. Conservatives are the only group where a majority (51 percent) is unfavorable toward the organization. Those who have actually visited a Planned Parenthood clinic and used its services are among the most positive, on the other hand: 78 percent hold a favorable view, and just 8 percent hold an unfavorable one.

Most are aware of what Planned Parenthood does

Most voters in the Garden State are aware of the health services provided at Planned Parenthood clinics. About eight in 10 voters know that Planned Parenthood clinics may provide abortions (78 percent), as well as cancer screenings and preventative services (84 percent). About nine in 10 voters know that Planned Parenthood clinics can also provide family planning services (89 percent), testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases (90 percent), and contraception, including birth control (92 percent). For the most part, awareness of these services fluctuates little across various demographic groups, with the exception of partisanship; Republicans and conservatives are less aware of these services compared to their counterparts.

A majority of voters (55 percent) are uncertain about the relationship between federal Medicaid funds and paying for abortions, however. Another 31 percent believe federal Medicaid funds can be used to pay for abortions, while 14 percent believe they cannot.

To download the press release and view the poll results and methodology, click here.


New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute

The New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute is the only independent, nonpartisan, multi-stakeholder advocate for health care quality in New Jersey. The Quality Institute’s mission is to undertake projects and promote system changes that ensure that quality, safety, accountability and cost-containment are closely linked to the delivery of health care services in New Jersey. Learn more about us and check out our blog, SchwimmerScript at Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP)

Home of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, ECPIP was established in 1971 and is the oldest and one of the most respected university-based state survey research centers in the United States. ECPIP’s mission is to provide scientifically sound, non-partisan information about public opinion. To read more about ECPIP and view all of our press releases and published research, please visit our website: You can also visit our extensive data archiveblogFacebook, and Twitter.


Ashley Koning, Director

Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling

Office: 848-932-8940

Cell: 908-872-1186

Carol Ann Campbell

New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute