Oh, Sarah Palin, how I miss you. I don’t know if you’ve stopped saying stupid things or hired better PR peeps or what, but it seems like the tides have turned against you nevertheless. You’re hardly ever in the news for insulting American Muslims or taking it personally when college kids try to stand up to Big Brother anymore; nope, most of the latest buzz with your name in it was related to Bristol’s appearance on Dancing With the Stars.
Yup, if new data from Hart Research Associates has any veracity, it appears that most women (74%, in fact) view Palin as untrustworthy on women’s health issues. As a point of reference, 54% view Planned Parenthood as trustworthy in terms of women’s health.
In the name of full disclosure, Hart’s survey was sponsored by Planned Parenthood. However, survey subjects included an equitable number of registered Republicans and Democrats making …
… up a base of over 800. Even taking a 3.5% margin of error into account, the numbers are pretty compelling.
Researchers asked, “Whom do you trust more to represent your views on women’s health issues?” For all women voters, the tally was 58 percent trusting Planned Parenthood, 22 percent trusting Palin. The trust gap was even starker among independent women: Only 12 percent of that crucial swing demographic trusted Palin more on women’s health.
Palin has positioned herself as a strong anti-abortion activist, speaking at numerous pro-life events, and deriding President Obama as “the most pro-abortion President.”
She consistently has described her decision to carry Trig to term, after learning he would have Down’s Syndrome, as living her anti-abortion beliefs.
But Sarah Palin aside, the true intent of this poll was to make a point regarding the dichotomy between what a typical woman feels strongly about, particularly in terms of reproductive rights and sex education, and the tide of Republican leaders voted into Congress in November.
Republicans have become increasingly aggressive on reproductive health issues as they prepare to take over the House in January. While the 1994 Contract with America avoided hot button issues like abortion and school prepare, this year’s Pledge to America does not shy from the subject.
The Pledge proposes making the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding of abortion, permanent. It also pushes conscience clauses, that allow doctors, nurses and hospitals to refuse to provide abortion services.
Can I just mention how appalled I am by the concept of conscience clauses? I want anybody who truly believes that conscience clauses are anything but reprehensible to read John Irving’s The Cider House Rules (the book, not the movie). Read that book and then talk to me about refusing to perform abortions.
Sorry, I’ll get off my soapbox.
The poll found 56 percent of voters do not know where soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner stands on reproductive health issues, despite his strong record of anti-abortion rights activism. Americans United for Life honored Boehner with their Henry J. Hyde Defender of Life Award this summer, recognizing his “extraordinary leadership in the fight to prevent taxpayer-funded abortion at the federal level and for his unheralded pro-life work in his home state of Ohio.”
“The message of the poll is that unlike the new leadership in the House, the vast majority of American voters clearly support taking proactive steps to prevent unintended and teen pregnancy, such as providing real sex education to young people and making birth control affordable and available,” Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said. “The incoming leadership of the House should take heed that Americans clearly don’t want their elected officials imposing new ideological restrictions on women’s health and rights.”
To go back to Sarah Palin for just a moment, I think the chasm that exists between your standard American taxpayer and the influx of extreme right-wing Republicans recently elected is one borne largely of ignorance. A lot of people thought Palin was “real,” but her phoniness (wow, now I’m Holden Caulfield … sorry, I’m feeling literary at the moment) has started to shine through loud and clear.
And this isn’t an anti-Republican freak-out, by the way; the fact that Washington has a way of forgetting what it’s like to be John or Jane Doe is what’s troubling to me.