Conservatives are up in arms about the federal requirement that insurance coverage include full reimbursement for birth control for women, even if those women work at religously affiliated institutions. And they’re not deterred by the Obama administration’s compromise on the issue, which specifies that the insurance plan, not the institution concerned, will pay the full cost of the contraceptive coverage. In fact, conservatives are doubling down on their opposition and are pushing the Blunt amendment in the Senate that allows any insurer or employer to deny coverage of any health service, including birth control, if they find such coverage morally objectionable.
Conservatives seem convinced that this kind of “culture wars” approach will yield a substantial dividend of public support. Well, maybe in some alternative universe, but not in this one. A just-released CBS/New York Times poll finds the public supporting “a recent federal requirement that private health insurance plans cover the full cost of birth control for their female patients” by a wide 66-26 margin. Moreover, the poll finds that the requirement is supported by women (72-20), moderates (68-22), Catholics (67-25), independents (64-26), and even Republicans (50-44).
Even if the question is narrowed to focus on “religiously-affiliated employers, such as a hospital or university,” the public still favors full coverage of birth control by these institutions’ health insurance plans by a very substantial 30-point margin (61-31).
Maybe conservatives should start looking for that alternative universe. Because their approach sure isn’t going to work in this one.
Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis, go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.