Majority Oppose Forcing Religious Groups to Fund Birth Control

National   Steven Ertelt   May 24, 2012   |   11:57AM    Washington, DC

A majority of Americans, in a new Rasmussen Reports national poll, oppose the Obama HHS mandate, which requires religious groups to pay for birth control and abortion-causing drugs for their employees.

The latest telephone survey finds that 51% of likely voters do not believe the government should require churches or other organizations to provide contraceptives if it violates their deeply held religious beliefs.

Seventy-three percent (73%) of Republicans and 55% of voters not affiliated with either of the major parties do not think the government should force churches and other organizations to violate their religious beliefs to provide contraceptive coverage. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Democrats disagree.

Although not a majority, a sizable number of Americans are worried that Catholic hospitals or medical centers or religious groups may shut down because of the controversial mandate.

As Rasmussen indicates: “Forty percent (40%) of voters believe it is at least somewhat likely that Catholic hospitals and other service providers will shut down rather than provide contraceptive coverage in violation of their religious beliefs. Fifty-one percent (51%) think such shutdowns are unlikely. These findings include 16% who say they are Very Likely and 17% who feel they are Not At All Likely to occur. Liberal voters and Democrats overwhelmingly doubt that the religious organizations would shut down rather than implement the health care mandate.”

Sixty percent (60%) of GOP voters think these institutions are likely to close their doors rather than provide mandated birth control. But 66% of Democrats and 53% of unaffiliated voters view that as unlikely.

Two Catholic colleges have already dropped health insurance for their students because of the Obama HHS mandate.

Also, this is the second poll in two days to show a majority of Americans oppose the HHS mandate, including a new poll conducted by Marist College. 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.

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Support for the Obama HHS mandate has fallen slightly since February, the Rasmussen poll shows.

“Thirty-nine percent (39%) now believe health insurance companies should be required by law to cover all government-approved contraceptives for women, without co-payments or other charges to the patient. That’s down four points from 43% in the previous survey. A plurality (48%) opposes such a requirement, while another 12% are undecided,” Ramussen notes.

“As for the requirement that health insurance companies provide free contraception to women, 68% of voters in the president’s party think it’s a good idea. Seventy-three percent (73%) of Republicans and 54% of unaffiliated voters oppose such a policy,” Rasmussen says. “Female voters are now evenly divided over this policy which also marks a slight rise in opposition compared to February. Male voters oppose the free contraception policy by a 52% to 34% margin.”

Seventy-three percent (73%) of all voters say they have followed recent news reports about the new lawsuit challenging a portion of the national health care law, with 39% who are following Very Closely.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on May 22-23, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC.