NPR Report Touting Support for HHS Mandate Omits that Poll sponsored by Planned Parenthood

By Dave Andrusko

In the NRL News Today story for Wednesday, “Obama Administration tries to persuade itself that HHS Mandate is “good politics,’” I wrote about the not-terribly persuasive case Obama insiders were making that it would work to their political advantage to require Catholic universities, hospitals, and charities to pay for health insurance that covers sterilization and contraceptive. I finished that before reading a fascinating piece by Matthew Balan over a Newsbusters.

The core of his fine reporting is that good old reliable NPR regurgitated the results of a Planned Parenthood-sponsored poll that furthered PPFA’s talking point—that the public (including Catholics) DOES support the HHS regulations, issued January 20—but without mentioning PPFA’s fingerprints.   

Balan offers several key insights which I will briefly summarize. You can read his full analysis at

*The poll was conducted by the Democratic polling firm of PPP—Public Policy Polling. Not exactly a bastion of objectivity.

* NPR’s Scott Horsley, Balan writes, doesn’t mention PPFA’s sponsorship but Horsley at least mentions the tactic behind the poll: “Supporters of the new policy are belatedly trying to refocus attention in a more popular direction, away from religious freedom and towards women’s health care.”

* We were told yesterday by Horsley that “A survey released today by Public Policy Polling suggests most voters agree [with the HHS mandate], including 53 percent of Catholic voters and 63 percent of women.” Other polls found less than majority support among Catholics. Indeed a poll released today by Rasmussen Reports of 1,000 likely voters found 50% of all Americans against the mandate and only 39% in favor.

In its question, Rasmussen specifically mentions what’s at issue—that the mandate “ violates deeply held beliefs of some churches and religious organizations.” PPP—whose poll was sponsored by PPFA—does not. Wonder why.

The whole objective of the PPP poll—and the subtext of the NPR report—is contained in a quote from PPP pollster Tom Jensen who said the results might help Obama and hurt GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney: “He’s [Romney] sort of playing with fire here. This is definitely an issue that has the potential to be pretty resonant this fall, and it’s one where congressional Republicans and Mitt Romney really may pay a price at the polls if they try to take this benefit away.”

For the record, all the Republican presidential candidates have castigated the Obama Administration for its reckless, insensitive, and heavy-handed mandate, not just Romney. And people are not stupid, contrary to what PPFA believes.

The citizenry can easily distinguish between whatever their personal opinion is about contraception and whether it is proper for the government to bully religious institutions into adopting policies that are completely at odds with their core principles.

Right now, you might think that the entire public knows that this is not an issue pro or con about contraception but about the government muscling religious institutions. But many people still do not, which is why PPFA is trying to muddle the issue.

But unlike the poor Komen Race for the Cure, which was cowed into submission, those who are threatened by the Obama Administration/PPFA coalition have resources and are quite able to defend themselves. And, contrary to PPP,  as the weeks go by, President Obama will sorely wish he had left sleeping dogs lie.

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