A newly released PRRI poll showed an apparent increase in public sentiment for “abortion rights” — but a closer look at the poll’s financial backers reveals that it was funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, a pro-abortion philanthropist group invested in abortion pill manufacturers Danco Laboratories and GenBioPro.
In addition, while the poll inquired about the abortion pill, it did not specify whether it disclosed this fact to those surveyed.
The poll, “Abortion Attitudes in a Post-Roe World,” posed a range of questions to 22,894 adults, commissioned between March 2022 and December 2022.
“Support for legal abortion isn’t limited to Democratic-majority states. Majorities of Americans in 43 states and the District of Columbia say that abortion should be legal in most or all cases, and in 13 states plus the District, more than 7 in 10 residents support legalization,” the Public Religion Research Institute poll claimed.
The poll’s results were heavily covered by pro-abortion leaning media, prompting Dr. Michael New — a Research Associate of Political Science and Social Research at The Catholic University of America, and an Associate Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) — to claim that “Unfortunately, this is just another sad example of the mainstream media amplifying the results of an abortion poll whose wording produces a result they support.”
In comparison, a 2023 Knights of Columbus-Marist Poll found that 69% of Americans surveyed said they wanted abortion to be significantly restricted, including a majority of those who identified as “pro-choice” on abortion.
Yet, the latest PRRI poll found that in 43 states, majorities thought that abortion should be legal in “most cases” or in “all cases.” And according to Dr. New, “had PRRI used different wording for the pro-life options, the results would have likely shown much greater opposition to abortion.”
The poll also found that among other things, “A slim majority of Americans oppose restrictions that make it illegal to obtain an abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy (44% favor vs. 52% oppose).” It also allegedly found that, “About one in four Americans (26%) favor laws that make it illegal to use or receive through the mail FDA-approved drugs for a medical abortion, also known as the abortion pill. About seven in ten Americans (72%) oppose such laws.” Dr. New’s full analysis is here.
“Since PRRI last conducted a state-level analysis in 2018, residents in nearly all 50 states are more likely to say abortion should be legal in all or most cases,” the poll stated. PRRI’s latest poll was “conducted among a random sample of 22,984 adults (age 18 and up) living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in the United States. Among those, 20,603 are part of Ipsos’s Knowledge Panel and an additional 2,381 were recruited by Ipsos using opt-in survey panels to increase the sample sizes in smaller states,” the 2022 poll reads.
Interestingly, in January of 2023, Ipsos found that “many Americans are incorrect or uninformed about facts surrounding abortion.” That NPR/Ipsos poll, which had a much smaller sample size than PRRI’s 2022 poll, also found that a sizeable number of those polled got news from abortion-favorable media.
Who conducted the poll?
The “PRRI team” included the founder and CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, Robert P. Jones, who appears to show bias against potential pro-life survey participants by suggesting on his blog that there is a “Connection between Opposition to Abortion and the Broader White Christian Nationalist Agenda.”
Jones points to statistics that presume to show that “those leading and bankrolling these efforts are largely conservative white Christians, and disproportionately white evangelical Protestants.”
Another member of the PRRI poll team is Senior Research Associate Ian Huff, who has described himself on his Twitter page as a “Professional question-asker @PRRIpoll.”
Huff is also strongly pro-abortion, as evidenced by his tweets.
My life is unequivocally better because many people I'm close to had access to abortion when they needed it. https://t.co/qL2EYql2HT
— Ian Huff (@Real_Ian_Huff) May 3, 2022
Natalie Jackson, PRRI’s Director of Research, seems to express empathy with the pro-abortion view in her online presence, as well.
It's really easy to get down about the state of the world right now, esp when key issue areas for your org are LGBTQ rights, reproductive rights, racism, immigration…
Take the breather, then get back to trying to make the world better one word or one data point at a time.
— Natalie Jackson (@nataliemj10) April 18, 2022
Pro-abortion funding financed the poll
According to PRRI, the 2022 “survey was made possible through the generous support of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, as well as Michelle Mercer and Bruce Golden.”
The Mercer/Golden duo are generous donors to organizations which promote and defend abortion. The duo not only funds the Center for Reproductive Rights but served on the organization’s 2021 host committee and were “sponsors” of a 2022 event. They also sponsored a Planned Parenthood “Acts of Courage” event in California as well as NARAL’s 2022 ‘Power of Choice‘ luncheon. In addition, the couple also funds the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute.
Online, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation is clear that it exists to advance “reproductive rights” (abortion), stating, “We work with reproductive health advocates, researchers, and providers to advance quality sexual and reproductive health information, services, and rights.”
A search of grants on the Packard website confirms that the pro-abortion philanthropist foundation granted PRRI $300,000 in 2022.
A further search of Packard Foundation financial documents reveals that the foundation funds multiple pro-abortion groups — including, but not limited to:
- Abortion Care Network (ACN)
- Advocates for Youth (AFY)
- Center for Reproductive Rights
- DKT International
- FemHealth Inc.
- Guttmacher Institute
- Gynuity Health Projects (GHP)
- IBIS Reproductive Health
- Medical Students for Choice
- National Abortion Federation
- National Network of Abortion Funds (Lilith Fund)
- National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF)
- New Orleans Abortion Fund
- Pathfinder Inst
- Planned Parenthood
- Physicians for Reproductive Health (PFRH)
- Population Council
- Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC)
- University of California San Francisco (UCSF)
In 1996, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation invested $14.2 million in the manufacturer of the abortion pill, Danco Laboratories. Packard is also investing millions in the generic manufacturer of the drug, GenBioPro, Inc.
The Foundation is also funding abortion pill clinical trial sponsors, study sites, and authors.
Interestingly, the PRRI poll specifically asked respondents about the abortion pill, and the results favored its expansion to being shipped by mail.
About one in four Americans (26%) favor laws that make it illegal to use or receive through the mail FDA-approved drugs for a medical abortion, also known as the abortion pill. About seven in ten Americans (72%) oppose such laws.
Republicans (43%) are notably more likely than independents (21%) and Democrats (15%) to favor laws that make it illegal to use abortion pills or receive them through the mail.
With the exception of white evangelical Protestants (50%), less than half of all groups across race, gender, education, and age categories favor making it illegal to use or receive through the mail FDA-approved drugs for a medical abortion.
Yet, nowhere does PRRI indicate whether they disclosed to those they polled how the abortion survey was funded by an investor in the abortion pill’s manufacturers.