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Kaiser Health Tracking Poll — May 2012

The May Health Tracking Poll focuses on the public’s perceptions and reactions to women’s reproductive health reemerging as a heated issue in policy debates and news and its potential impact on the upcoming presidential election.

Three in ten women (31 percent) overall believe that there is currently a “wide-scale effort to limit women’s reproductive health choices and services, such as abortion, family planning, and contraception” in the U.S. A larger share (45 percent) say there are some groups that would like to limit women’s reproductive health choices and services but it is not a wide-scale effort, while others volunteer that no such effort exists (7 percent) or decline to offer an opinion (17 percent).

For many women, women’s reproductive health issues resonate on a personal level, with 42 percent reporting that they took some action in the past six months in reaction to something they’ve seen, heard or read. This includes attempting to influence a friend or family member’s opinion (23 percent), donating money to a non-profit working on reproductive health issues (15 percent), and contacting an elected official (14 percent).

For now, female voters (like male voters) continue to focus on the economy above all else as an election issue, with several other issues (including health care generally) rising above women’s reproductive health. Six in ten women voters name the economy and/or jobs as the issue they’d most like to hear about from candidates, compared to just 5 percent who name women’s health or other women’s issues (including abortion).

In asking about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the share of the public with a favorable view of ACA dropped 5 percentage points this month, with unfavorable views now outnumbering favorable ones by a small margin (44 percent versus 37 percent). The idea of defunding the law, as discussed by some members of Congress, is as unpopular now as it was a year ago, with roughly six in ten (58 percent) saying they disapprove of cutting off funding as a way to stop some or all of the law from being put into place, and about a third (32 percent) saying they approve of this strategy.

The May poll is the latest in a series designed and analyzed by the Foundation’s public opinion research team.

Findings (.pdf)

Chartpack (.pdf)

Toplines (.pdf)