Abortion-issue groups find polls show a standoff


WASHINGTON -- The two largest groups in the abortion battle are presenting polls with contradictory results on public support for abortion counseling.

The National Right to Life Committee, the nation's largest anti-abortion group, released a poll yesterday indicating equal support and opposition -- 48 percent each of 1,000 adults polled -- for the recent Supreme Court decision, Rust vs. Sullivan. The ruling upheld the Bush administration's ban on abortion counseling in federally funded family planning clinics.

But Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion rights group, reported the results of its own poll of 1,254 adults last week, in which 74 percent of those polled said they oppose the decision.

Both groups used national polling companies for data that they hope will influence the upcoming congressional debates on abortion bills.

In the Right to Life Committee poll, conducted by the Republican pollster Richard B. Wirthlin, 54 percent of respondents said they oppose "legislation that would require taxpayer-funded family planning programs to provide abortion counseling and referral."

The Planned Parenthood poll, conducted by Louis Harris, concluded that 73 percent do not "support the government's decision to prohibit any information about the option of abortion in clinics" and 81 percent support giving information on abor

tion to all public and private family-planning clinics.

The anti-abortion group did not comment on the Harris poll, which focused only on abortion.

President Bush has said repeatedly that he would veto any legislation that reverses the ban on abortion counseling, and it is not clear whether any of the bills have enough support to override a veto. In the Harris poll, 70 percent supported a congressional override.

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