Poll: Majority of Americans Oppose Obama HHS Mandate

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 22, 2012   |   5:09PM   |   Washington, DC

A new poll conducted by Marist College and released by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization, shows a majority of Americans oppose the controversial Obama HHS mandate that forces religious groups to pay for drugs that may cause abortions.

“As America’s bishops and Catholic organizations around the country file lawsuits to protect their First Amendment rights from the government’s health care mandate, a new survey finds that a significant majority of Americans support the right to opt out of providing drugs, services and procedures for religious reasons,” the group said.

According to the Knights of Columbus-Marist Poll, nearly three in four Americans (74 to 26 percent) say that freedom of religion should be protected, even if it conflicts with other laws. Majorities would also protect the First Amendment conscience rights of hospitals, health care workers and insurers.

Strong majorities would let individual health care providers and organizations opt out of providing: abortion (58 to 38 percent), abortion-inducing drugs (51 to 44 percent), in vitro fertilization treatments that could result in the death of an embryo (52 to 41 percent), medication to speed the death of a terminally ill patient (55 to 41 percent) and birth control pills (51 to 46 percent).

The number supporting the right to opt out of providing birth control is particularly interesting given the fact that more than eight in 10 Americans (88 percent) believe contraception is morally acceptable.

“This survey reveals that the American people are fundamentally dedicated to protecting the First Amendment conscience rights of everyone,” said Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson. “Allowing people to opt out of these procedures or services ― which violate their faith ― is the right thing to do. It is also key to protecting the First Amendment rights of all Americans and enjoys strong public support as well.”

The Marist survey fond 50 percent of Americans have heard of the debate over the government’s health care mandate. The mandate, promulgated by the Obama administration and the Department of Health and Human Services, requires employers ― including organizations that are religiously affiliated ― to provide free insurance coverage to women for services including sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs and birth control.

In addition, a strong majority of Americans (52 to 31 percent) also indicated that laws in the United States have made it more difficult to follow one’s religious beliefs in recent years. Nearly 9 in 10 Americans (88 percent) also agree that religious leaders should speak out on issues of religious freedom.

The survey found an overwhelming majority of Americans said that forcing health care workers and doctors to provide abortion – when they object for religious reasons – is morally wrong (72 to 27 percent). Majorities also said that abortion (58 to 40 percent) is wrong in and of itself.

March 2012 polling released by New York Times/CBS found Americans strongly oppose the new HHS mandate and favor a broad exemption for religious groups and employers who do not want to pay for birth control drugs or drugs that may cause abortions.

The survey revealed that, by a 50-41 percentage point margin, Americans say all employers should not have to cover birth control or potentially abortion-causing drugs while a larger 57-36 percentage point margin say religious employers should not be forced to provide coverage.

When asked “Should health insurance plans for all employees have to cover the full cost of birth control for female employees or should employers be able to opt out for moral or religious reasons?” even women favor the opt-out on a 46-44 percent plurality. That margin for women increased to a 53-38 margin for “religiously affiliated employers, such as a hospital or university.”

Men favored opting out by a 20 point margin (57 vs. 37), and that percentage jumped to a 25-point spread for an opt out when religious employers were mentioned.

A February Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found 38 percent of likely voters think health insurance companies should be required by law to cover the morning after pill without co-payments or other charges to the patient. But 50 percent of Americans disagreed and opposed this requirement while 13 percent are undecided.



“That’s less support than the 43% who believe health insurers should be required to provide free contraception in general,” pollster Scott Rasmussen noted. “Only 39% are opposed to the policy of providing free contraceptive services, 11 points lower than opposition to mandated coverage of the morning after pill.”

Looking deeper into the results of the new survey, Ramussen reports that female voters are only slightly more supportive than male voters of requiring health insurance companies to provide emergency contraception for free. Sixty-five percent (65%) of Democrats say health insurers should be required to provide the morning after pill for free. Seventy-two percent (72%) of Republicans and 54% of voters not affiliated with either party oppose such a policy.

Just 11% think requiring health insurance companies to cover the cost of the morning after pill will reduce the cost of health insurance. Forty-nine percent (49%) say the mandate will increase the cost of health insurance, while 31% believe it will have no impact, according to the new survey released today.

That survey followed a previous Rasmussen poll asking, “The requirement to provide contraceptives for women violates deeply held beliefs of some churches and religious organizations. If providing such coverage violates the beliefs of a church or religious organization, should the government still require them to provide coverage for contraceptives?”

Some 50 percent of those polled said no while 39 percent of Americans agreed.

The Knights of Columbus-Marist poll surveyed 1,606 adults from May 10 through May 14, 2012. See the complete results of the poll here.