Statewide poll shows majority of Virginians oppose TRAP

beck research

va coalition for womens health logoThe Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health, which is made up of state and national women’s health advocates and providers and chaired by NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia,  commissioned a public opinion survey from Beck Research, LLC on burdensome targeted regulations on abortion providers (TRAP).  Beck Research LLC then conducted an independent representative phone survey of Virginia adults, aged 18 and older, to determine their feelings on Virginia TRAP regulations.

As you may know, proposed TRAP regulations single out Virginia women’s health centers and force them to comply with onerous hospital-standard construction requirements that are completely unrelated to patient safety — and required of no other outpatient health center in Virginia. If enacted as written, TRAP regulations could shutter the majority of Virginia’s women’s health centers as early as next year.

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and our colleagues within the Va. Coalition to Protect Women’s Health  have known for quite a while that these regulations are not endorsed by doctors and medical experts in Virginia. However, before these unnecessary, politically-motivated regulations become permanent, we really wanted to understand how the men and women of Virginia feel about them.

Now that the results are in, our understanding is clear:  The majority of Virginians oppose these regulations. And further, the opposition is shared across partisan lines.

Our new survey demonstrates that Virginians strongly oppose changing the building requirements for women’s health care centers that offer first-trimester abortions, the subject of final decision-making by the Virginia Board of Health on April 12. The majority opposition to the new regulations carries across partisan boundaries – most Republicans, Independents and Democrats disapprove of the regulations. Further, an overwhelming majority of Virginians say they trust doctors and medical experts about health care, not politicians (including the Virginia legislature, Governor Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli).

Who Virginians trust on health care regulations, vs. who is making the decisions right now

This survey demonstrates that Virginians want doctors and medical experts, not elected officials, to make medical decisions and set health regulations.  The majority of Virginians (58%) oppose the new building requirements for first-trimester abortion services, compared to 35% who favor them. Three-quarters of Virginians (75%) agree that private medical decisions should be made by women, their families and doctors.  Doctors and medical experts are trusted sources of information on health care in Virginia, while Virginians are reluctant to look to their elected officials for health guidance.

These results are based on a survey fielded February 20-24 among a total of 500 Virginia adults, aged 18 and over. The margin of error is +/- 4.4%. The survey employed a random digit dial (RDD) sample and contains landline and cell phone interviews. The margin of error is +/- 4.4%.

  • Virginians do not want elected officials to overstep and prefer that medical experts set medical regulations. Doctors and medical experts are universally trusted about health care in Virginia; 95% of Virginians trust doctors (56% very much) and 93% trust medical experts (51% very much). In contrast, Governor McDonnell and Attorney General Cuccinelli are the least trusted sources on health care in Virginia. Just 41% of Virginians trust the governor and 38% trust the AG; 52% do not trust McDonnell or Cuccinelli very much or at all on health care.
    • Virginians also agree by a wide 69%-to-23% margin that “medical experts should set all medical regulations, including those regarding first trimester abortion” over “elected officials should contribute to medical regulations, especially those regarding first trimester abortion.”
  • By a two-to-one margin, Virginians oppose changing the building requirements for women’s health centers that offer first-trimester abortions. When asked with no explanation of the regulations (see question 7), 46% of Virginians oppose the proposal, including 33% that strongly oppose it.  In contrast, only 22% favor it, including just 11% who strongly favor the proposal. An equal proportion of Virginians are unsure about the proposal; 22% are either undecided or unable to answer the question.
  • A broad coalition of Virginians opposes the proposal from the outset. Democrats, older women (women 50 and over), and African-Americans are some of the strongest opponents, but Republicans oppose the proposal by 24-points and Independents by 13-points (see Appendix A for full results). After additional information explaining the proposal in more detail (see question 8), a majority (58%) of Virginians opposes the measure and 35% support it; just seven percent are undecided or unsure (see Appendix B for question wording). The proposal continues to be opposed by a 23-point margin. At the end of the survey, after arguments for and against the proposal, opposition grows, with 62% opposing the proposal and 31% supporting it.
  • At the conclusion, the proposal remains unpopular across demographic groups and by self-identified partisanship. Democrats oppose it by a wide margin (71% oppose), but a majority of Republicans (57%), Independents (59%), conservatives (57%), and white Born Again Christians (57%) also dislike the proposal.
  • Virginians are not eager to restrict abortion; majority think abortion should be legal. A majority of Virginians thinks abortion should be legal, including 28% who think it should be legal in all cases.  Only 38% think abortion should be illegal and just 15% report that abortion should be illegal in all cases. In addition, Virginians see abortion as a private matter. By a wide three-to-one margin (75%-to-22%), Virginians agree “private medical decisions should be made by a woman, her family and her doctor” over “abortion is bigger than any single woman’s medical decision.”

Want to see the full poll? Check out the official results here!


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