It seems that the sweeping cuts that gutted family planning services for low-income Texans in 2011 aren't quite as popular as a clamorous minority would have led us to believe. Based on new poll results from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, the majority of Texans -- across party, gender, and racial lines -- remain in opposition to the legislation slashing two-thirds of the state's resources for lower-income, and largely female, family planning.
Conducted from Feb. 6-11 and polling 604 registered voters, the survey, published through the Texas Freedom Network, points starkly in opposition to 2011's cuts, with nearly 75 percent favoring "state-funded family planning services, including birth control, for low-income women." Over two-thirds of the state, it seems, has staked some opposition to the Legislature's choice to hack two-thirds of the fiscal path for just such a program.
"Just two years after the cut, we find across-the-board support for women's access, regardless of income level," Dan Quinn, communications director with the left-leaning Texas Freedom Network, said. "It's a loud message that politicians are way out of step."
But it's not simply that an overwhelming majority voiced their support for birth control; rather, it's the supporters form a coalition from all swaths of religion, gender, and race. For instance, while 73 percent of Catholics voiced support for some form of state-sponsored birth control -- in line with the state-wide levels -- 66 percent of born-again Christians followed suit, pricking one of the numerous images of Evangelicals as an austere, prudish bunch.
Meanwhile, any and all races offered majority support for birth control access, with the strongest support stemming from African-American (91 percent) and Hispanic (79 percent) communities.
And if these numbers aren't enough to dent the Legislature's reflection of its electorate, there's this, tucked away in the release's text:
Eighty-four percent of Texas voters favor teaching about contraception, such as condoms and other forms of birth control, along with abstinence, in high school sex education courses; nearly two-thirds (66 percent) "strongly favor" providing this type of information.
Only 16 percent of the state -- fewer than the number who want to secede! -- believe abstinence should be the sole method of sexual education. If that doesn't restore a bit of faith in our body politic, I don't know what to tell ya.
Unfortunately, this is the first comprehensive polling done on the subject to date, meaning it offers little more than a snapshot, rather than a trajectory. Moreover, as the State Republicans only entrenched themselves following the 2012 election, it seems voters have placed birth control access and sexual education relatively low on the docket of priorities.
Still, if nothing else, Quinn noted that the poll should serve as far more indicative look at Texans' sentiments than a certain vocal minority would seem to offer.
"If I were a Republican interested in promoting these kinds of culture wars, I'd have to stop for a minute and see if it was smart," Quinn said. "The truth is, these are not controversial culture war issues except in the Legislature. Texans generally have a common-sense about these kinds of things."