Catholics in the U.S. are more likely that other Americans say that employers should be required to provide insurance that covers free contraception, according to a recent poll.
A survey released by the Public Religion Research Institute on Tuesday found that 58 percent of Catholics think businesses should be required to provide health plans with free birth control, compared with 55 percent of all Americans who agreed with the requirement. At 38 percent, white evangelical protestants were the least likely to agree free contraception should be provided by employers.
Religiously unaffiliated Americans, at 68 percent, were the most likely say that company health plans should cover birth control for free.
Among political parties, 73 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of independents said health insurance should include free birth control. But only 36 percent of Republicans agreed with that point of view.
The poll also uncovered a significant gender gap. Overall, 62 percent of women said contraception should be provided at no cost, while only 47 percent of men thought it should be a requirement.
In recent weeks, a controversy has erupted over the issue of employers being required to provide birth control coverage, with Catholic leaders and many conservative politicians taking the view that it should be optional.
The Obama administration announced last month it would stand by a policy that requires virtually all private insurance policies to cover family planning, including female contraceptives, essentially guaranteeing near universal access to birth control once all the provisions of the Affordable Care Act are implemented.
Last week, thousands of Catholic parishioners were read letters by Catholic Bishops in the U.S. that condemned the Obama administration for that decision.
“We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law,” Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted wrote in just one of the numerous letters. “People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights.”
David Axelrod, a top adviser to President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, suggested on Tuesday that the administration was open to working with Catholic hospitals and universities over their objections to providing birth control services to women.
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