As noted earlier today, the likely impending failure of the American Health Care Act legislation, if not today then later, would leave some unresolved issues for the GOP to deal with above and beyond the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. The most urgent politically is that darling of the anti-abortion movement, the defunding of Planned Parenthood. This is a cause that many, many conservatives are willing to shut down the federal government over, and that is precisely what could happen shortly, when the current continuing appropriations measure keeping the lights on runs out on April 28. If conservatives insist on defunding Planned Parenthood in any appropriations extension, and Democrats take up the challenge by filibustering it, we could have an impasse and a shutdown, all coming up very soon.
This issue could represent another political disaster for the GOP. It’s one thing to defund Planned Parenthood in a giant bill that’s “about” something else, namely Obamacare. It’s another thing altogether if it’s the center of attention. As a new survey from Quinnipiac showed yesterday, once people understand that no federal funds currently pay for abortions by Planned Parenthood, the idea of “defunding” it becomes very, very unpopular.
After hearing an explanation of what “defunding” Planned Parenthood would and would not do, respondents to this national survey opposed it by an astounding 14/80 margin. Self-identified Republicans oppose it 32/60, and Trump’s “base” demographic of non-college-educated white voters oppose it 17/77.
Even without the explanation of current law, Q-Pac respondents opposed the defunding of Planned Parenthood by a 33/61 margin (28/68 among independents, and 43/52 among non-college-educated whites). It’s a politically perilous idea by any calculation that the Republican Party has no choice but to advance wherever it can. That’s one bit of fallout from a screwed up health-care plan that its sponsors, at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, may soon have to answer for among Republican members of Congress having to walk the Planned Parenthood plank with no cover.