Do polls show American public favoring bishops’ position on contraceptive coverage?
A new New York Times/CBS News poll asked respondents whether “all employers” should have to cover birth control, and whether they should be permitted to opt out for “moral or religious objections.” Fifty-one percent of respondents said that there should be an opt-out for objecting employers, while only 40% did not. If the employer has a “religious affiliation,” those number supporting an “opt-out” jumps to 57%.
The framing of the question is new.
A February poll by the NYT/CBS asked the question this way: “Do you support or oppose a recent federal requirement that private health insurance plans cover the full cost of birth control for their female patients?” (emphasis added). Sixty-six percent said they supported the requirement, with 26% opposed.
The follow-up question was: “And what about for religiously affiliated employers, such as a hospital or university – do you support or oppose a recent federal requirement that their health insurance plans cover the full cost of birth control for their female employees?” There, 61% said they supported the requirement, with 31% opposed.
The Bishops’ original objection to the requirement was that religious institutions should not have to comply with it — in other words, that they should not be forced to provide insurance to their employees that covers contraception free of co-pays. Only after President Obama made the accommodation on February 10 that placed the onus of coverage on insurance carriers rather employers did this question of whether an employer could have a “religious or moral” opt-out even come to the fore. As part of their shifting arguments, the Bishops raised the the “Taco Bell” opt-out. Through this, the Bishops began arguing that any employer (i.e., a Taco Bell franchise) should be permitted to raise a religious objection and opt out of the requirement. Senate Republicans attempted to codify that (and more) in the Blunt Amendment, which failed earlier this month by three votes.
It appears from the new NYT/CBS poll, though, that if the question is framed about employers’ “moral or religious objections,” the Bishops’ strategy might have been persuasive. But if the question is asked about insurance carriers, rather than employers, the response is different. [More]