On Sunday, the political advocacy of arm of Planned Parenthood, called Planned Parenthood Action Fund, endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in its first-ever primary election endorsement.
In accepting the award, Clinton made a surprising announcement about how far she would go to promote abortion access:
The Hyde Amendment is a ban on the funding of abortion by federal Medicaid providers except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk. Abortion became legal in 1973, and the ban was first passed in 1976, though it didn’t take effect until 1980 when the Supreme Court ruled it was constitutional.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, which supports lifting the ban, after the Hyde amendment was first passed:
“Abortions financed by federal Medicaid funds dropped from about 300,000 per year to a few thousand.”
The Hyde Amendment is peculiar in that it must be passed every year by Congress because it is not a formal law, but an amendment to every annual appropriations bill since 1976.Image Credit: SAUL LOEB/Getty
The intention of the Hyde Amendment has the support of an overwhelming number of Americans.
A January 2015 Marist poll, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, found that American voters opposed the public funding abortion by a 40-point margin: 68% opposed while 28% favored. Additionally:
- Millennials opposed it by 71% to 28%;
- Women opposed taxpayer funding of abortion 69% to 28%;
- Men opposed it 69% to 30%;
- Among both men and women, fewer than one in 10 “strongly support” publicly funding abortion.
The overall results are nearly identical to Quinnipiac University’s 2010 poll that found that American voters opposed the public funding abortion 67% to 27%.Image Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty
Clinton’s willingness to go beyond the vast majority of Americans when it comes to taxpayer-funded abortions may be evidence that the candidate is receiving less support among millennial women than expected.
According to an NBC News/Survey Monkey poll released in November, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and fellow Democratic candidate received 48% of support from voters aged 18-29, compared to Clinton’s 33%.
An ABC News poll revealed that while 71% of Democratic-leaning female voters said in July they expected to vote for Clinton, as of September, that figure was only 42%, a drop of 29 percentage points in eight weeks.Image Credit: Olivier Douliery/Getty
Democratic strategists have noted the history-making potential of Clinton’s campaign doesn’t resonate among millennial women like women of other age groups. One strategist noted to The Hill in November:
“To them it seems obvious and indisputable that if Clinton doesn’t win, some other woman will, and soon. (Clinton seems) too old, too moderate and too caught up in another time.”
In an apparent effort to build support among millennial women, Clinton has appeared multiple times on the “Ellen Degeneres Show,” once with comedian Amy Schumer; taken selfies with Kim Kardashian; and given exclusive interviews to publications with young and female audiences like The Skimm and Refinery29.
More recently, actress and activist Lena Dunham joined Clinton on the campaign trail and briefly took over the candidate’s Instagram account.
Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, is a similarly receptive audience for Clinton. In September interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Clinton declined to name a single restriction on abortion she could support, and the candidate has long had a close relationship with the organization.Image Credit: Darren McCollester/Getty
With her announcement regarding the Hyde Amendment, Clinton and Planned Parenthood increasingly tie their political fates to each other.
But it remains to be seen if that relationship will function as an effective dog-whistle for millennial female voters come November.