By Sally Patterson
Result of interviewed legislative administrators.
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Extra resources for How does Congress approach population and family planning issues?: results of qualitative interviews with legislative directors
Abortion As a Factor in Tempering Support The issue of abortion appeared to be fundamental in determining attitudes toward population policies. Contentious and opposing attitudes and beliefs surrounding abortion and the belief or fear that foreign aid for family planning will end up supporting abortions in other countries are driving restrictive policies in the Congress. In the first ten interviews, we did not specifically raise the issue of abortion. However, a number of the respondents whose members of Congress mostly oppose population programs in voting volunteered the possibility that funds would go toward abortion as a reason to oppose foreign assistance for family planning.
It is therefore critical to understand three points about this swing-vote group: How they make their choices What their attitudes are: For example, is there truth to the commonly held assumptions that current members of Congress tend to be isolationist, desire to cut funding for foreign aid, and regard family planning and other population programs as not valuable? How information reaches them and how they use it. In particular, we wanted to obtain a clearer picture of whether and how they make use of research-based information on population issues.
Comprehensive policy papers (30 to 60 pages) were criticized for excessive length, and many legislative directors we interviewed also complained that they receive too many of them. Policy Briefs or Summaries. Briefs were cited as useful for the "raw" and factual background information they provide. Background papers, short summary documents outlining the key salient issues, were considered particularly useful when they pertain to the work of Page 25 a committee on which a member sits. The most effective policy briefs are one- to two-page summaries.