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Were the Planned Parenthood Shootings A Terrorist Act?

Friday, December 04, 2015

Some politicians have charged that last week’s shootings at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado were politically motivated. Were the killings a domestic terrorist act? Americans say no.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 61% of American Adults believe the shooting incident at the Planned Parenthood clinic was the action of a mentally ill individual. Just 23% regard it as a political protest. Sixteen percent (16%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Sixty-six percent (66%) say the shootings were a criminal act. Only 21% disagree and think they were a terrorist act instead. Fourteen percent (14%) are not sure.

But Americans are less certain when asked if the recent political criticism of Planned Parenthood’s sale of body parts from aborted babies is to blame for the Colorado shooting incident. Twenty-nine percent (29%) think the criticism is to blame, but slightly more (33%) disagree. But nearly four-out-of-10 adults (37%) are undecided.

Several prominent Democrats have blamed recent Republican criticism of Planned Parenthood for the killings. But Democratic voters are nearly as divided as Republicans over whether the recent criticism of the reproductive health organization is to blame for what happened in Colorado.

Democrats also have used the incident to step up their calls for more gun control. But most voters have said consistently in surveys for years that the best way to prevent mass shootings is to focus more on the mentally ill rather than on increased gun control.

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The survey of 1,000 American Adults was conducted on December 2-3, 2015 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Fifty-three percent (53%) of U.S. voters have a favorable opinion of Planned Parenthood. Just 35% think the federal government should cut off all funding to the organization as congressional Republicans have attempted to do.

Most Americans across nearly every demographic category agree that the shootings in Colorado were a criminal act by a mentally ill individual. But women are less convinced than men.

Adults under 40 are much more likely to see the incident as political protest than their elders are.

But men, women and voters of all ages are similarly divided over the question of whether the political criticism of Planned Parenthood was a motivating factor for the shooter.

Thirty percent (30%) of Democrats view the Planned Parenthood shootings as a terrorist act, compared to 16% of both Republicans and unaffiliated voters. Democratic voters by a similar margin are more likely to see the incident as a political protest rather than the action of a mentally ill individual.

Not surprisingly, Americans who view the shootings as a terrorist act and a political protest are more likely to blame the political criticism of Planned Parenthood.

Favorable and unfavorable opinions of Planned Parenthood haven’t changed since the release of a video in July showing a top official discussing the harvesting and sale of body organs from aborted babies over lunch. Planned Parenthood argues that the video and subsequent ones like it were edited to make the organization look bad. Just 25% of voters favor the sale of body organs from aborted babies for use in medical research.

But from the start of the controversy, voters have shown little interest in cutting off federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Fifty percent (50%) of voters say they are pro-choice, while 41% describe themselves as pro-life instead.  Predictably, pro-choice voters strongly favor Planned Parenthood and oppose defunding it. Pro-life voters strongly dislike the group and want to cut it off the government payroll.

Conservative Republicans increasingly unhappy with the unwillingness of their congressional leaders to confront Democrats over issues like Planned Parenthood is one reason why they welcomed the resignation of House Speaker John Boehner.

Criticism of Planned Parenthood by most of the Republican presidential candidates, however, may prove to be a losing issue at the polls.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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