CNN Poll: Half oppose Obama birth control insurance plan
February 16th, 2012
04:04 PM ET
2 years ago

CNN Poll: Half oppose Obama birth control insurance plan

Washington (CNN) – Half of all Americans say they oppose the Obama administration's new policy concerning employer-provided health insurance plans and their coverage of contraceptive services for female employees including those at religiously affiliated institutions, according to a new national survey.

The push by the White House has been sharply criticized by Catholic Church officials, and many political pundits have said that the controversy could hurt President Barack Obama's re-election chances with Catholic voters. But a CNN/ORC International poll released Thursday also indicates that the vast majority of Catholic Americans say they don't always follow church teachings on such issues as abortion and birth control, and few Americans Catholics believe artificial means of birth control are wrong.

See full results (pdf)

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According to the survey, 50% of the public disapproves of the Obama administration policy, with 44% saying they approve of the plan. The margin is right at the edge of the poll's sampling error.

Surveys on this topic tell a mixed story because many Americans know little about the issue. Recent CBS and Fox polls indicate support for the new policy, using questions that describe the new policy in some detail. But in the CNN poll, when asked their opinion of the Obama policy with no details spelled out, support was much less and a large partisan divide emerged. A recent Pew poll also suggests Americans are closely divided, and that poll may hold the key to the differences. Nearly four in ten Americans say they have heard nothing at all about this controversy.

"The CNN poll illustrates the road ahead for the White House," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "If the administration can't inform more Americans about the details of the policy - details that some other polls show to be popular - the public is likely to split along party lines. Many will dislike the plan simply due to the fact that this is an Obama initiative."

"It's a lot like President Obama's overall health care measure, which most Americans say they oppose even though they approve of many of the specific programs in the new law - opponents can use it against the president as long as they can keep the focus on who made the policy rather than what the policy actually does," adds Holland.

The President announced an accommodation Friday in the dispute. Under the new plan, religiously affiliated universities and hospitals will not be forced to offer contraception coverage to their employees. Insurers will be required, however, to offer complete coverage free of charge to women who work at such institutions. Female employees at churches themselves will have no guarantee of any contraception coverage – a continuation of current law.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops denounced Obama's compromise last week soon after the president's announcement, saying the proposal raises "serious moral concerns," according to a statement posted on its website.

But the poll indicates that Americans, including American Catholics, are unconcerned about contraception and birth control. Roughly eight in ten disagree with the belief that using artificial means of birth control is wrong, and nearly nine in ten American Catholics say that they don't feel the need to obey Church teachings on moral issues like abortion and birth control.

"This is not a new phenomenon," says Holland. "Polls have found widespread support for artificial means of birth control since the 1980s, and since the 1990s, polls have found that American Catholics believe that they should make up their own minds on moral issues rather than always following Church teachings on those issues."

According to the survey, there's also a partisan divide on the issue, with seven out of ten Democrats supporting the new Obama administration policy, independent voters divided, and the vast majority of Republicans opposed. Both congressional Republicans and the GOP presidential candidates have been critical of the president and the White House on this issue.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from February 10-13, with 1,026 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

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soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. diridi

    what is there to oppose? nonsense, o.k, These guys are totally uneducated. Do you think these opponents are not using the contraceptives, and other devices. This is absurd.

    February 16, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    "Surveys on this topic tell a mixed story because many Americans know little about the issue. Recent CBS and Fox polls indicate support for the new policy, using questions that describe the new policy in some detail. But in the CNN poll, when asked their opinion of the Obama policy with no details spelled out, support was much less and a large partisan divide emerged. A recent Pew poll also suggests Americans are closely divided, and that poll may hold the key to the differences. Nearly four in ten Americans say they have heard nothing at all about this controversy."

    NICE! CNN just admitted to lousy journalism. They're so proud they decided to write an article about it. This utter shameless should certainly prove to anyone with half a brain that the so-called "liberal" media is anything but. CNN is a fog machine that censors important stories and issues, nothing more.

    February 16, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  3. Obama's Snake Oil on Sale - Git yur lies and deceit here!!

    Way to go CNN! Thanks for maintaining my smoke and mirrors show by not including ANY reference to violating religious beliefs. If you have done that the results might have been 95% opposed. I really do appreciate you throwing out some more smoke. Never enough smoke, that MY motto!!

    February 16, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  4. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Foreign owned media, Fox, has really done a fine job of creating a wedge where none existed. Fortunately there is enough time for the republican slow learners to understand the policy, and they will realize that the president is only following the law.

    February 16, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  5. Lolo

    Thanks to the Republicans this will always be an issue. As long as the Catholic church keeps filling up their pockets they will make a mountain out of a mole hill for them. Also no one was saying a peep during the priest abuse scandal, it was just roled under the rug. Again this is a personal chioce not a choice for politicians or the church. Also if you don't want an abortion don't hve one and if you don't want to use bitrh control do not use it. Here we go again with abortion, guns and religion thrown up in the mix. Please lets hurry up and vote these people called the republican and tea partiers out so that we can move orward with this country. I am tired of the same old song. They are such hypocrites and liars. Just keep things stirred up over nothing. Please step back and let the women make their own choices. Really women need to take over government. These tired old men are getting on my nerves.

    February 16, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  6. carrotrot

    So Republicans oppose it just because it came from Obama, but they have no problem with their own Presidential candidate Mitt Romney supported an almost identical contraceptives mandate (which is to the left of Obama's) in his own healthcare law.

    February 16, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Did anyone do a poll to determine if the majority of Americans believe that life begins at orgasm? How about a poll on the Virginia law that calls for invasive testing of women?

    February 16, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  8. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Snake – You win the funniest post of the day. The president is sworn to uphold the law, and not your inane religious beliefs.

    February 16, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    Snake Oil wrote:

    Way to go CNN! Thanks for maintaining my smoke and mirrors show by not including ANY reference to violating religious beliefs. If you have done that the results might have been 95% opposed.
    --------
    Go ahead. Take the red meat. Make this an issue in the general election campaign. Go for it.

    February 16, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  10. Tony

    This is not about contraception. This is about a president forcing group A to provide product B, which is clearly an abuse of power.

    February 16, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  11. Tony

    carrotrot: no one supports anything Mitt did in Mass

    February 16, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  12. Bob C

    Odd, this poll is virtually the opposite of virtually every recent poll that strongly supported the President's position. What's up with that?

    February 16, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  13. Joi Gibson

    I may be having reading comprehension. You ask a generic question, you get a generic answer. When specifics are asked, then the majority approve the President's plan. Maybe instead of taking polls on generic questions to give you all something to pontificate about, why not try giving the public details which they deserve to know – you know, like a news organization is supposed to do. Publishing this poll is crappy journalism to say the least. You are skewering the issue by not giving details. Shame on you CNN.

    February 16, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  14. rosie

    If the insurance company offers birth control and you oppose birth control DO NOT BUY ANYTHING from that company. Really that is all there is to it. If someone else wants birth control then it is none of your business. I do not want the government paying for birth control. It is not a right and should not be treated as such. If you can't afford the insurance then too bad.

    February 16, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  15. Russ

    What part of "you don't have to use contraceptives" don't these people understand? Insurance companies just have to make it available for those that want to use it. So, let's see I had cancer recently. My insurance company offered treatment options. I DIDN'T HAVE TO USE ANY OF THEM IF I DIDN'T WANT TO!!!! But since I wanted to live I opted to use them. So if you don't like contraceptives, don't use the provision that lets you have them. Pretty damn simple isn't it. But don't throw your illegitimate childern out there for me to take care of! Got it?

    February 16, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  16. the real deal

    sf pinhead the president does not have the power to mandate what anyone has to do read the constitution

    February 16, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  17. Thomas

    Rep. Darrell Issa Bars Minority Witness, a Woman, on Contraception . Looks like Darrall is looking at a 2016 Presidentual run. The only differences between Darrell Issa and Randy "Duke" Cunningham is that Cunningham is paying for his crimes.

    CNN , More then Half of Americans Supoort Obamas birth control insurance plan .And those that dont are the same people that beleave a Hummer gets great gas milage and saddam hussein was responsable for 911.

    February 16, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  18. rdg18

    I thought 99% were for government forced birth control. I am shocked that liberals would lie about this issue. What else are they lying about?

    February 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  19. Cedar Rapids

    "NICE! CNN just admitted to lousy journalism. They're so proud they decided to write an article about it. This utter shameless should certainly prove to anyone with half a brain that the so-called "liberal" media is anything but."

    No they didn't, they said that if asked a simple question, with no details provided on the issue, then a different answer is given.
    Jeez, talking about 'half a brain'

    February 16, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  20. Dave R.

    Let me tell you my story about Catholic hypocrisy. In 1968, shortly before my wife and I were to be married in the3 Catholic church, (I'm protestant). The priest asked my wife-to-be if she promised to practice the churches teaching on birth control, she replied “no” because “I’m on the pill”. The priest then asked, are your periods irregular? She replied “yes” then that’s why you are using birth control and I can now marry you. When the Catholic church comes clean about the pedophile priests, the world will be a much better place.

    February 16, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  21. Michael

    So what are we supposed to believe? I read another poll published on CNN about 4 hours ago that said Americans are overwhelming (65% to 35%) in favor of the Obama administration's position on this issue. Obama is right; the insurers should have to pay for birth control, regardless of the institution for which the insured person works. We've all got to pay for things we don't support or believe in. Last time I checked, I had no ability to withold my tax dollars spent waging 2 wars that I did not support. I now have to pay for pre and perinatal care for people I do not believe should be having their 4th, 5th or 6th pregnancy. Why should Catholics get special treatment on this issue?

    February 16, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  22. Nanci

    You know it gets old these teabaggers and the like, always butting in everyone's business but their own. Please November please remove these leaches on society. Just one day I would like to read or hear the news that doesn't include these insane peoples phobias.

    February 16, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  23. Lindsey

    Note to Republicans: Stay out of my home, out of my bedroom, out of my uterus. You are LIARS when you say you want "small government". All you want is NO TAXES FOR THE WEALTHY. That's not small government, that's a plutocracy. In all other areas, you want RELIGION to MANDATE how Americans are supposed to live.

    Over my dead, bleeding, maimed, dismembered body will THAT ever happen, I promise you. Find a time machine, throw Santorum and his brood into it, then climb in yourselves and go back to the freaking 14th century where you all belong!

    February 16, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  24. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Rudy NYC - Go ahead. Take the red meat. Make this an issue in the general election campaign. Go for it
    ===========================================================================
    Obamacare and all of it's unconstitutional mandates already IS an issue in the general campaign. Either way the USSC rules, Obama LOSES becuase so many people want it repealed and this issue only adds to it. Republicans MUST keep linking this to Obamacare and pound that drum until the election.

    February 16, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  25. sayer

    So those same people who are against Catholics providing contraceptive coverage are for Muslims building a Muslim Community Center in NYC? I highly doubt that. Hypocrites all of them!

    February 16, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
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