|An architectural rendering of Planned Parenthood's New Orleans facility|
After surviving attempts by lawmakers to defund it last year, Planned Parenthood is circulating the results of a November poll that suggest voters’ attitudes about reproductive health and pregnancy in Louisiana do not fit neatly along a pro-life to pro-choice continuum.
Conducted by Hamilton Campaigns with 600 likely voters, with over-samples from Baton Rouge and New Orleans, it found Republicans are still the leading preference for legislative seats, with 46 percent compared to 41 percent for Democrats and 12 percent undecided.
Drilling down to the key issue, the poll points to slightly more than half of Louisiana voters, or 54 percent, preferring a legislative candidate who focuses on creating jobs, increasing access to health care and protecting the middle class.
Only one-in-three, or 33 percent, want a candidate who focuses first on protecting traditional values and upholding a “pro-life, pro-family agenda.”
As for ending all government funds for Planned Parenthood, 37 percent were in favor, 56 were opposed and 7 percent had no opinion.
While cross-tabs were requested by LaPolitics but not provided, a poll memo stated that voters in the north Louisiana, New Orleans and Baton Rouge media markets were strongly opposed to defunding, while voters in the south were divided.
When voters were asked to describe themselves, 56 percent identified as pro-life, 26 percent pro-choice and 16 percent as “in between.” However, a majority of voters did not believe Roe vs. Wade should be overturned-33 percent were for overturn, compared to 59 percent for leave it in place.
Contacted for comment, Gene Mills, president of Louisiana Family Forum, said Planned Parenthood hired a company “whose client list is a veritable ‘who’s who’ of pro-abortion organizations to spin their pitiful national reputation into a positive.”
He said Planned Parenthood is expanding in Louisiana, specifically New Orleans, and hopes to “accelerate abortion opportunities this year” and that his organization is working with a larger coalition called NOLA Needs Peace.
“Louisiana residents have consistently demonstrated their strong commitment to Life in the only poll that counts—the voting booth,” Mills said.
The issue isn’t weakening in the Legislature.
State Rep. Frank Hoffman, R-West Monroe, said that he plans on filing additional legislation this year to “maintain Louisiana’s ranking as the most pro-life state in the nation.” It’s expected that Planned Parenthood’s funding will be a part of those debates.
In related news, the state Department of Health and Hospitals announced Monday—a day before a public hearing was scheduled—that it would back off on its controversial emergency rules that would have overhauled Louisiana’s existing regulations on abortion clinics.
The proposed rules would have given DHH the authority to immediately shutter abortion clinics with no opportunity for appeals, despite the type of infraction. Clinics argued the requirements being proposed were heavy handed.
State officials say they were worried about potential lawsuits, but that they would eventually circle back around to the issue.