Poll: Most back mandating contraception coverage

The Obama administration is working on new guidelines for contraception coverage requirements following a heated controversy with religious institutions. Norah O'Donnell reports. CBS News

CBS
Amid continued controversy surrounding an Obama administration policy mandating that women working at religiously-affiliated institutions be provided with free access to contraceptive health care, a new CBS News/New York Times poll shows that most Americans - including Catholics - appear to support the rule.

According to a survey, conducted between Feb. 8-13, 61 percent of Americans support federally-mandated contraception coverage for religiously-affiliated employers; 31 percent oppose such coverage.

The number is similar among self-professed Catholics surveyed: 61 percent said they support the requirement, while 32 percent oppose it.

Majorities of both men and women said they are in favor of the mandate, though support among women is especially pronounced, with 66 percent supporting and 26 percent opposing it. Among men, 55 percent of men are in favor; 38 percent object.

The survey's margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.

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President Obama announced Friday that the government will not force religiously-affiliated institutions such as schools, charities and hospitals to directly provide birth control coverage as part of their employees' health care coverage, in the wake of an uproar from religious leaders over the administration's original language surrounding the regulation.

According to the tweaked rule, employees of religiously-affiliated institutions will have access to no-cost contraceptive coverage through the employee's health insurer, which will be required to offer the coverage for free. Organizations will not be required to refer women to the contraception coverage or subsidize it.

The rule in question has always exempted religious institutions, such as houses of worship, from providing their employees with mandated contraceptive coverage. CUT sentence, seems redundant to above

A number of voices on the right remain dissatisfied with the compromise. Leading U.S. Catholic bishops have vowed to fight the decision with legislative and court challenges; most congressional Republicans object to it as well.

Republicans frame the matter as an issue of religious liberty; Democrats counter that no person is being forced to exert her right to use birth control. Democrats also point out that 99 percent of women, and up to 98 percent of Catholic women, have used birth control at some point in their lives, according to two separate polls by the Guttmacher Institute.

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