Only three in ten women believe there is currently a broad-based campaign to limit their access to reproductive health care, a new poll shows.
The survey, conducted by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care research organization, found that 31 percent of women believe there is an ongoing and "wide scale effort to limit women's reproductive health choices and services." A larger portion, 45 percent, believe that some groups are actively working against female health services, but that the effort is not quite "wide scale."
The Kaiser poll follows months of controversy over recent legislative maneuvers at the federal and state levels to limit access to and funding for reproductive services for women, as well as broader spending cuts that disproportionately affect women. The poll's findings could be an indication of the difficulty that women's rights organizations are having in sounding an alarm about their concerns.
Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, told The Huffington Post that since the 2010 midterm elections -- when House Republicans, led by new Speaker John Boehner, began to pursue policies she characterized as against women's interests -- it has been "like pushing a very large rock up a very steep hill to get people to pay attention to this war on women, so the fact that 30 percent of women ... have recognized it is a huge victory, frankly."
O'Neill criticized Boehner for attacks on "women's access to reproductive health care services" and on "social spending programs that disproportionately employ women and disproportionately serve women."
In March, the Senate narrowly defeated the Blunt Amendment, which would have overturned an Obama administration policy that requires health insurers to cover contraceptives. The contraception rule currently faces lawsuits from Catholic groups.
State governments have passed or considered a record number of laws in the past two years that directly target women's access to reproductive health care, such as mandatory ultrasound bills and post-20-week abortion bans.
Eight states have voted to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides basic health care and cancer screenings to millions of low-income Americans each year, and more could follow suit. Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has pledged to "get rid of" federal funding for the family planning provider.
The poll also shows that many women are fighting back: 42 percent of those surveyed reported taking action in the last six months on behalf of women's reproductive health choices and services. Actions ranged from trying to persuade friends and family about these issues (23 percent) and contacting elected officials (14 percent) to donating money to nonprofits that provide services to women (15 percent).
Surprisingly, the survey found that an equal proportion of men (42 percent) also reported taking actions over the last six months in response to something "they've seen, heard or read about women's reproductive health choices and services."