More than half of American voters – 54 percent -- approve of President Obama’s compromise that would have insurance companies pay for birth control for employees of religious-affiliated institutions, according to the latest Quinnipiac University national poll, released on Thursday. Just 38 percent said they disapproved, the telephone poll of 2,605 registered voters found.
The survey, conducted last week at the height of the controversy over the new policy, suggests that Democrats have the upper hand in defining the issue as one of women’s health, as opposed to Republican efforts to frame it as religious freedom.
More than half of men, 52 percent, approved of the administration’s compromise, while women approved by 56 percent to 34 percent. White Protestants split 46 to 46 percent while 48 percent of white Catholics disapproved. Seventy five percent of Democrats like the plan, 56 percent of self-identified Independents said they did, while Republicans disapproved by 63 to 32 percent.
Voters said by a margin of 71 percent to 24 percent that health insurance plans should cover birth control, but they split almost evenly, 47 percent to 48 percent, on whether the government should make private employers provide insurance that covers free birth control. And more than half of voters, 55 percent, say abortion should be legal.
On a related issue, voters also side with the Democrats and Planned Parenthood. Republican lawmakers on the state and federal level have been trying to take funding away from the group because it provides abortion and abortion advice along with many other health care services.
But the Quinnipiac survey found 55 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of Planned Parenthood and just 22 percent said they didn’t. Sixty percent oppose cutting federal funding to the group and this number rose to more than 80 percent if voters were asked if they would support the cut if they knew the money was going only for non-abortion health issues such as breast cancer screening. In fact, this is the case – Planned Parenthood does not use federal money for abortion services.
On a separate issue, more voters than not say they hope the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn the 2010 health reform law. The survey found 50 percent of voters think the law should be overturned, while 39 percent say it should not. The court hears oral arguments on legal challenges to the law in March.