In Taking a Lead from the Bishops, the Democratic Leadership Is out of Step with Voters

Jan 06, 2010, 10:00 ET from Catholics for Choice

WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A series of opinion polls on healthcare reform in four Congressional Districts reveals how out of touch some political leaders are with the views of the electorate. The polls, taken in the districts of four Catholic representatives who supported the restrictions on abortion imposed by the Stupak-Pitts amendment, show that voters do not agree with proposed healthcare reform legislation on the issue of insurance coverage for abortion. The tightened restrictions on abortion were added to the House's version of the bill in the only amendment that the Democratic leadership allowed in the House vote on healthcare, due in large part to lobbying by the US bishops.

Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, argued that by taking directions from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the leadership shirked its responsibility and elevated the views of a small group of unaccountable and unrepresentative men over the views and needs of the American people. He said, "The Democratic leadership accepted ultimatums from the USCCB and used the healthcare reform bill to restrict access to abortion services for American women. The 200 bishops who run dioceses do not reflect the views of Catholics, let alone all Americans, yet they played a decisive role in shaping the bill. The bishops' lobby efforts showed that their first, second and last priority was to restrict access to abortion. Sadly, the Democratic leadership was willing to acquiesce to the demands of a few members who take marching orders from the bishops."

The polling, taken in the districts of Maine's 2nd (Michael Michaud), Ohio's 9th (Marcy Kaptur), Pennsylvania's 14th (Mike Doyle) and Texas' 16th (Silvestre Reyes) shows that the electorate does support insurance coverage for abortion in healthcare reform. When combined with those who either support direct federal coverage or private coverage that would be included in federal plans, majorities in Pennsylvania (69%), Maine (61%), Ohio (56%) and Texas (51%) favor making abortion coverage available in a government-subsidized health insurance plan.

For the complete release and links to the polling data, please go to

SOURCE Catholics for Choice