Obama’s Birth Control Mandate and the Polls

by on December 28th, 2010
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On Feb. 14, the New York Times released a poll that shows an overwhelming percent support President Barack Obama’s recent health care mandate. The mandate, which would require employers to provide health insurance plans that cover full birth control costs for women, has met with a 66 percent approval rating. Unsurprisingly the president is facing much opposition from the faith based institutions such as hospitals and schools.

The argument used by those who oppose the president’s mandate claim that forcing an institution to provide birth control violates religious freedom and the first amendment. If religious institutions do not comply they face a heavy fine.

The argument that the president’s mandate violates religious freedom and the first amendment will probably not hold up in court. Currently 28 states require employers to provide full contraception services to employees. This law has frequently been challenged but was always found constitutional. Several States, 8 in total, already require religious institutions to provide full contraception services to employees.

Although rank and file Catholics have been particularly outspoken against the presidents health care mandate regular church going Catholics are split pretty evenly down the middle, even favoring the president’s mandate. According to the New York Times poll, 61 percent of Catholics favor the president’s health care proposal while 31 percent oppose it. It may come as a surprise that Catholics who identify themselves as loyal Republicans still support Obama’s plan. 50 percent of Catholic Republicans favor the initiative while only 44 percent oppose it.

Women represent a significant demographic in the polling and their numbers can help explain why Obama’s health care plan is doing so well, even among conservative voters. According to a recent poll conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, 98 percent of Catholic women have used contraception at least once in their lives.

There has been some contradiction regarding the numbers released by the CBS poll. A poll released by the Rasmussen Reports on Feb. 8, found that 65 percent of Americans oppose the requirement that faith based institutions should be mandated to provide free birth control services to employees.

It is not yet known if the president will make a compromise regarding the mandate for faith based institutions. Catholics represent an important demographic for the Obama administration and it is yet to be seen how Obama will court their votes.

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