CNN Poll: Half oppose Obama birth control insurance plan
February 16th, 2012
04:04 PM ET
10 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. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I will write this slowly, because you right wingnuts cannot read well. Long before President Obama was sworn in, there were laws written to protect workers, and allow them access to health care. Yes, it included women, too. In addition to national law, 27 states and DC even have those laws allowing women access to birth control if they want it. That is the law. Nice try bringing up an issue that was dealt with in the 1970s.

    February 16, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  2. rosie

    Well said Lindsey. The GOP would rather not separate church from state when it means that the bible becomes law in this country. And they oppose the Koran being the basis for law in other countries...........

    February 16, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  3. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    When explained to slow learners and right wingnuts, most favor the Affordable Care Act.

    February 16, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  4. Gwen

    Leave it to the old white guys to decide whats best for women!!! I work in the medical field – currently most insurance plans offer coverage of Viagra – but not birth control – so old guys who want kicks they can get their drugs but young women who want to avoid poverty, control the size of their family, get an education, start a career or use contraceptives for other medical reasons have to pay $30.00-$50.00 a prescription – AND THIS IS FAIR AND SENSIBLE TO REPUBLICANS!!!!

    February 16, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  5. rdg18

    My friends, family and I will be voting against obama and the liberals this November.

    February 16, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  6. FLIndpendent

    I can't believe the Repubs are keeping this issue alive. They will do anything to distract from the healing economy and pander to their base. Darrell Issa has been looking for an issue to try to bury our President since the Repubs took over the house so he's trying anything to make something stick. The Repubs are on the wrong side of this and women will revolt. This has nothing to do with religious freedom as no one is being forced to use contraception – it is, however, an individual freedom issue and every woman has the right to have these basic heatlh care needs available to them. The Repubs are such hypocrites – always screaming about our freedoms being taken away but they don't mind it when the "Church" is taking away a person's freedoms!

    February 16, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. David

    Obama, not happy going after thew Jews, has declared war on Catholics.

    Jeremiah Wright's racist prime pupil has to be stopped.

    February 16, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  8. Boomer in Mo

    I'm so damn old, I don't need birth control. But....I don't think the priest, or the Catholic hospital administrator, belong in the room with any woman and her ob/gyn. (Remember a couple of years ago when some Republicans wanted to put procters in the room with women when they were being counseled by an ob/gyn because they were too stupid to understand what the Doc was saying to them? I guess it would be double-dumbness if the ob/gyn also was a woman.) It is the annual exam for birth control pills, diaphrams, implants, IUDs that costs so much. I'd have no trouble with them paying the standard drug co-pay for them and don't know why it should be free. But it should not be outlawed by a bunch of religious zealots either. One should not have to adopt the religion of an employer in order to get a job, or have health cre, but that seems to be what the Catholics and some of their supporters believe.

    February 16, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. David in Houston

    Manufactured outrage & ill-informed Americans (thank you, Faux News & Koch Brothers) have contributed to this divide...

    People familiar with the issue overwhelmingly support it.

    February 16, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. silverfox

    Way to go, Bishops. Keep it up and another million Catholics will leave the Chruch. The problem with forbidding the clergy from marrying is that they all have absolutely no idea what real life is like for the average American family or young couple just starting out. And the idea that you have the right to impose your religious beliefs on people who work for you is about as UnAmerican as anyone can possibly get.
    You might also consider that currently nearly 1,500,000 births occur every year outside of marriage. Without legal daddies to help raise and support them, most of them and their moms will wind up on the taxpayers check. So better to have unwanted kids born into a probable life of poverty, poor health and neglect ?

    February 16, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. Sidewinder

    The Catholic church talking about "serious moral concerns" ? Can you get more hypocritical than that? Their whole organization and the ex-hitlerjungend running it raises serious moral concerns. Catholic Inc needs to shut up and clean their own house before they get the right to criticize others.

    February 16, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. Jen

    I don't objective to women being able to choose to use birth control. I object to the federal government forcing others to pay for it and disguising a choice for convenience as "health care"!

    February 16, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  13. clarke

    Poll nothing but women, next time, men don't count. Better yet poll mothers of 16 /17 yr olds. College women 18 yrs and up. This is going backwards for women, next will take your right to vote.

    February 16, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  14. Gwen

    So why do you want the new healthcare bill repealed – because of Obama – I can't find one republican that can give me a good answer – other then the talking point – its a government takeover – WHICH IT IS NOT – it sets up exchanges for insurance companies to sell insurance at better prices with better benefits, ie mammograms, birth control, colonoscopys , etc.- which will help bring down the cost of health care – people are healthier, less cost!!!

    February 16, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. Drifter

    This to me is neither a political nor a religious issue. If you are having s*x for any reason other than having a baby it is a purely recreational activiity, and we should not be forced to pay for someones elses recreational activity. Next thing you know we are going to be asked to pick up their beer tab.

    February 16, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  16. vic , nashville ,tn

    Way to go CNN may be these numbers will help your ratings

    February 16, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The catholic church should flog their bishops.

    February 16, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  18. Jav

    Why do so many men in the world want to have so much control over women's bodies. All those fanatics that are gnashing their teeth at this need to be rounded up and sent to Afghanistan so all the Zealots and women haters can be in one place

    February 16, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  19. janelle

    Of course, those who oppose must be ill informed. What a bunch of bs. Those that support this are the uninformed. Do you really want the President of the United States, one person, no matter who he or she is, to have the authority to mandate what you a private citizen must or must not do? This is the heart of the matter. The over reach of government. If you want this President to have that power, then what about the next President? What if the next President says it's a matter of healthcare that everyone should be seen by a psychiatrist to ensure good mental health for every citizen. Doesn't matter if you want to do it or not, you will have to. Or, what if a President says it's in the best interest of your health if you are spiritually sound, so therefore you must attend a church? Absurd you say? Well, this is the power you are giving the President!!! Don't cry when it's used in a way that you don't agree with.

    And by the way, when did it become your employers responsibility to have to pay for decisions you make in your private life. Your employer pays/compensates you for the work you perform. They often offer "benefits" to attract better qualified workers. These benefits are voluntary on the part of the employer, to have the government mandate them is ludicrous. If you want your private life to be private, and not the business of your boss, don't demand your boss pay for it.

    February 16, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  20. Andrew

    If you are morally against the use of birth control, then don't use it. Simple.

    I bet the vast majority of the people who complain about it, use it. per reuters- 70% catholic women use it. And wouldn't birth control usage reduce abortion, which i assume the anti birth control people like even less?

    I feel the same about abortions- if you don't like them, don't have one.

    February 16, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  21. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    It appears that republicans would rather pay for a child of a rape victim being born, than any preventative measure?

    February 16, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  22. Drifter

    @Nancy - opposition to government mandating that companies pay for birth controling is not butting into your business. I couldn't care less what you do on your free time, or whether you choose to use birth control, just don't ask me to pay for it.

    February 16, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  23. JohnW

    "Many will dislike the plan simply due to the fact that this is an Obama initiative." In other words, GOP standing tactic #1.

    February 16, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  24. CitizenA

    As a former Catholic, I do not understand why Catholics have such a problem with this. If all the empleyees are good Catholics then none of their employees will be using contraceptives therefore none of the employers will be paying for it. It only becomes a problem if the Catholic church is asking the Government to enforce Catholic doctrine by agreeing to not make contraceptives available which is clearly a violation of the separation of church and state. As a taxpayer I have a huge problem with the Catholic church expecting my government to impose the church's will.

    February 16, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  25. tepeters

    This polling seems contradictory- when asked about the Administrations policy they should have isolated the adjusted policy. The question asked in the survey was "from what you have heard..." It does not distinguish what they heard-this made this an invalid poll.

    February 16, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
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