Catholic voters support Obama on birth control

Polling released this weeks indicates that a strong majority of Americans, including a majority of Catholics, support President Obama’s stance on making few exceptions to the mandate that health insurance plans include access to no-cost contraceptives.

The polling, done by the Public Religion Research Institute, shows that 73 percent of Democrats agree that employers should be required to offer health plans that cover contraception at no cost.

Sixty-two percent of women agreed with that statement, 58 percent of Catholics agreed.

Fifty-seven percent of all voters agreed “that women employed by Catholic hospitals and universities should have the same rights to contraceptive coverage as other women.”

Fifty-three percent of Catholic voters agreed “that women employed by Catholic hospitals and universities should have the same rights to contraceptive coverage as other women.”

The question of whether religious institutions should be required to provide health insurance plans that cover contraceptives has been very controversial and has led to the introduction of legislation in the U.S. Senate that would completely strip the Affordable Care Act of the requirement that contraception be required in health plans at all, by allowing any business owner to claim an exemption due to their personal beliefs.

[In… USA Today, Anthony Picarello, general counsel for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote that they want any business or corporation to be able to refuse birth control coverage benefit to their employees.

“The Rubio-Manchin bill would allow any business or corporation, on the basis of personal religious belief or moral conviction, to take away birth control coverage from their employees, said Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

“That’s not right. It should not be left up to a boss’s personal beliefs whether his employees should be allowed birth control coverage.

“Birth control is basic health care and women should have access to birth control, no matter where they work. That’s why a majority of Americans, including Catholics, support the Obama administration’s birth control benefit.

“The Obama administration’s birth control benefit already includes an expansive refusal exemption, allowing approximately 335,000 churches and houses of worship to refuse to provide birth control for their employees,” she wrote in a prepared statement.

The PRRI polling also revealed that Mitt Romney’s stance in favor of eliminating the birth control benefit from health plans could cost him votes in a general election.

Forty percent of all voters said they are less likely to vote for Romney because he has pledged to eliminate the benefit that gives women birth control coverage without a co-pay. Just 23 percent said it made them more likely to vote for him.

Forty-six percent of Catholic voters say they are less likely to vote for Romney, while 28 percent said it made them more likely to vote for him.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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