CNN Poll: Half oppose Obama birth control insurance plan
February 16th, 2012
04:04 PM ET
3 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. Independent Voters

    Catholic Voters was going be against president Obama regard of the contraceptive service.
    Catholic religious need to worry about these priest who abuse boys.

    February 16, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  2. FLIndpendent

    @Drifter – what a truly ignorant post! I sure hope you don't have a girlfriend or wife. First of all, sometimes women are presribed the pill for medical issues, not just contraception, so that throws your rant out the window. Secondly, I suppose you're not opposed to insurance companies covering Viagra, are you? Get educated and stop the whining!!

    February 16, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  3. Drifter

    Note to Lindsey - you can do whatever you want with "your body", just make sure you do it on your dime.

    February 16, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  4. Dave

    Darrell Issa's all-male panel is a disgrace. The Republican party is committing political suicide.

    February 16, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  5. Mike

    Whichever side you are on ask yourselves this question. Why do we need the gov't getting more control of our lives and requiring ANYTHING more of us? If women want to use birth control let them do it. If religious organizations or other liked minded organizations do not want to pay for this service then do not require it of them. The two positions are not incompatible. Let us exercise our freedoms rather than our restrictions.

    February 16, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  6. Jason

    We are truly a country of morons...

    February 16, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  7. Cindy

    This country is going back in time. One old geyser said "In his day women put two aspirn between their legs, and that was their birth control. These are the men making decisions about women's health. There are many reasons women take these pills and not for birth control. Virgins sometimes take them, old woman beyond the age of giving birth sometimes have to take them. Who said this is not about women's health.

    February 16, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  8. Brendiux

    Leave it to religion to decide what other one should do and don't do :/

    This is a personal choice and it should be provided to women that decide to use it. Erections get insurance, why not the pill?

    February 16, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  9. FLIndpendent

    @ Janelle – President Obama isn't telling any person how they need to run their life – what's wrong with you? Can't you see it is the Catholic Church that is taking away a woman's right to choose. If the Catholic Church wants to run hospitals and provide healthcare coverage for their employees then they need to abide by the law. The individual employee does NOT have to get birth control if they don't believe in it. I can't understand why people can't see the distinction here. You are so worried about the President telling you what to do that you are blinded by the fact the "Church" is telling what you do. Your freedom of choice is being taken away by the Church, not the President.

    February 16, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  10. Antonio666

    Sounds to me like the results are hardly worth reporting. If most of those questioned knew nothing about the policy, then the results are simply knee-jerk reactions. "Oh, if Obama supports this policy I have to oppose it." Seems like it was a useless exercise. You'd expect more from CNN.

    February 16, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  11. bob

    God help us all if any of these religious zealots are elected to the office. We'll be known as the Western Christian Taliban.

    February 16, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. Sidewinder

    Another couple of points to consider here: insurance companies pay for costs associated with having babies, right? So by including birth control as a normal benefit, they are helping their bottom line vis a vis people not having babies until they want them. Most insurance covers Viagra (how does Catholic Inc feel about that?) So, to have a religious group say "we want benefits for our workers, BUT, not birth control" is really religion intruding on what would normally be insurance company policy. And once again, if you don't want to take/use birth control, then don't.

    February 16, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  13. Cindy

    All employees have a right to their own religion. No employer should be able to force his religious views upon the people that work for him.

    February 16, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  14. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Elect me President and I will MANDATE that ALL liberals and leftists purchase and use birth control. Anybody resisting or getting pregnant will be forced to under go sterilization and/or abortion. Since these people have no problem with any of these items, I am sure they will agree to submit to my Presidential order. It is the ONLY way to contain the leftists plague that aflicts us and the left has now given us the tools to deal with them. (half sarcastically)

    February 16, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  15. seebofubar

    If you want contraceptives, pay for them your self. Avoiding pregnancy is not a health issue. If you can't afford it, keep your pants on. I'm sick of paying for other's bad behavior. What the hell is happening in this country, have you all gone madd?

    February 16, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  16. Danigirl

    I'm still trying to figure out how polling 1026 people is representative of 236 million people.

    February 16, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  17. Alina1

    Americans are working so hard to survive, sometimes two jobs at the time. I dont think many of us know anything about contraceptives as Health care for women. Women go against themselves "just cose". More you find out about it, batter for you.

    February 16, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  18. DS

    This topic is like discussing Donald Trump's toppee

    February 16, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    What right do men have to decide weather WOMEN should take birth control. What right do men have to call a meeting to decide weather WOMEN should take birthcontrol without at least one WOMAN present. When men start popping out kids or even carding them then they may decide the subject or heck if they feel the need to take it they may have an opinion. I'm the mother of two boys and I take birthcontrol for a medical reason I don't care who knows it cuz I'm not the only woman who is like this without birthcontrol I have been hospitalized cuz my body was not making enough blood for my body to survive with out the nirthcontrol I would be in the hospital and not home with my kids that's some real crap if you ask me I think some men should do their research before shoving their opinions in our faces

    February 16, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  20. Mary

    What right do men have to decide weather WOMEN should take birth control. What right do men have to call a meeting to decide weather WOMEN should take birthcontrol without at least one WOMAN present. When men start popping out kids or even carding them then they may decide the subject or heck if they feel the need to take it they may have an opinion. I'm the mother of two boys and I take birthcontrol for a medical reason I don't care who knows it cuz I'm not the only woman who is like this without birthcontrol I have been hospitalized cuz my body was not making enough blood for my body to survive with out the nirthcontrol I would be in the hospital and not home with my kids that's some real crap if you ask me I think some men should do their research before shoving their opinions in our faces

    February 16, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  21. Drifter

    FLIndpendent - as a matter of fact I am opposed to insurance covering Viagra. And just for the record I do not oppose the use of contraception, just who has to pay for it. As far as prescribing the pill to address a specific medical issue, I would not find that objectional, but that accounts for a very small percentage of the prescriptions written. No one has said (other than maybe the Catholic church) that women (or men) can't use birth control. Unless it is to address a specific medical condition I should not have to pay for it, and nobody has given one good reason why I should.

    February 16, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  22. OnTheRoad

    I am against the Obama plan! Not for religious/non religions reasons, not for male/femail reasone, but for the simple fact that why should my insurance rates be forced to go up so that someone can have 'Obama's so call 'FREE' coverage!' This is not a 'Free' coverage, everyone is paying for it!

    February 16, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  23. Cindy

    What would help the bottom line of an insurance company the most?
    BirthControl or
    Regular pregnancy
    Complicated pregnancy
    Complicated pregnancy with an underweight baby needing 3+ months on intensive care.
    Now you decide what would save the insurance company the most.

    February 16, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  24. Will

    IT IS NOT ABOUT BIRTH CONTROL, IT IS ABOUT FREEDOM OF RELIGION !!!!!!!!!! Everyone in the planet is free to use it, just don't ask others to pay for it, if they don't want to. BTW I'm not a GOP right wing bible thumper. How much of your freedom do you want to hand over to the government ? ? ?

    February 16, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  25. sujith

    Half (republican) guys!

    Where are the women?????

    February 16, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
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