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Dec 3, 2012

New Research: Majority of Americans Support Mandatory ObamaCare Contraception Coverage

Since the passage of the Affordable Healthcare Act (commonly referred to as Obamacare), religious institutions and other non-profit organizations have waged a legal battle over the requirement to provide contraceptive coverage and birth control to all employees even though these requirements may directly contradict the long-held religious beliefs of the organization. The lawsuits filed specifically claimed the HHS mandate violates the Constitution under the First Amendment Free Exercise of Religion Clause and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

By their reaction, it is clear where religious employers stand on Obamacare's contraceptive mandate. I've not been neutral on the subject, myself. I wrote here at the blog:

The key here is simple. I get that the view of most people of faith (Christians and others) are increasingly antithetical to our society. However, we have said that freedom of religion is the most important. It is not without reason the very first amendment to the United States Constitution begins with both the existence and exercise of religious freedom: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Believers are becoming increasingly in need of conscience clauses to retain and protect rights from the encroachment of government coercion...

So, to my Catholic friends, I stand with you even though I do not share all your views on birth control. No one should not be coerced by government force to fund or affirm things they do not believe in. Yes, those who will not tolerate religious liberty came first for the Catholics, but it will not end there...

But what about the American public? Facts are our friends so we asked them-- and they hold a different view.

According to a new LifeWay Research survey, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of American adults agree businesses should be required to provide their employees with free contraception and birth control, even if it runs counter to the owners' religious principles. Twenty-eight percent disagree and 10 percent selected "Don't Know."

To be clear, the wording of the poll asked about "contraception" and not specifically "abortifacient contraception," a main point in a suit filed by retailer Hobby Lobby. Abortifacient contraception includes some forms of the "the morning-after pill."

We chose the wording to reflect what is widely reported in the news as a 'contraception mandate.' Catholic organizations were quick to point out the conflict of the mandate with the religious teachings of the Catholic Church, but the details of this mandate concern many other religious groups whose religious beliefs specifically oppose abortifacient contraception. At this point, however, the vast majority of news reports describe this as a contraception issue and the majority of Americans are not supportive of companies, nonprofits or Catholic charities opting out.

Speaking of Catholics, the opinions change slightly when taking into consideration religious affiliation of the organization. Fifty-three percent agree Catholic and other religious schools, hospitals, and charities should be required to provide the coverage, while 33 percent disagree.

More from the release:

In considering whether nonprofits should be required to provide the coverage, 56 percent of adults agree and 32 percent disagree they should be required to follow the mandate even if it goes against their religious beliefs.

Demographically, responses to the LifeWay Research poll show Americans who never attend religious services are more likely to "Strongly Agree" (45 percent) nonprofits, Catholic and other religious schools, charities and hospitals should be forced to follow the mandate. The percentage rises to 55 percent when considering businesses in general.

The survey shows women are more likely than men to "Strongly Agree" that all three organizational categories: businesses (48 percent vs. 37 percent); nonprofits (37 percent vs. 29 percent); Catholic and religious schools, hospitals and charities (36 percent vs. 26 percent) should provide the coverage.

Younger Americans are the least likely (less than 10 percent) to "Strongly Disagree" with businesses and organizations being required to follow the mandate.

It is easy for Americans to desire to protect the freedoms of individuals over unnamed business entities. However, such generalizations may overlook the fact that more than 90 percent of businesses with employees are family businesses. Recent lawsuits contend that the religious freedoms of these families conflict with healthcare choices desired by individuals.

The religious freedom that the United States pioneered is not a freedom of belief, but a freedom to practice that faith. My concern is that the American public appears unaware or unconcerned that some religious organizations and family businesses indicate fear of losing the freedom to practice their faith under the new healthcare regulations.

Finally, I would add, the Supreme Court almost always has a higher view of religious liberty (and its protection) than the general public, but the general public just has not been persuaded on this issue.

I'm sure there will be plenty of opinions on this. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below. Also, please consider the comment rules when commenting.

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Posted:December 3, 2012 at 12:00 am

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