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Who Supports the White House on Birth Control Policy? (Updated)

12:07 PM, Feb 23, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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What do Americans think about the Obamacare contraception mandate? It depends how you ask the question. A new Quinnipiac poll shows, Politico reports, that a majority (54 percent to 38 percent) support the White House's so-called "accommodation" on the Department of Health and Human Services rule. Perhaps that's not surprising, since plenty of mainstream media outlets reported the "shift" in policy as a "compromise."

Here's how Quinnipiac asked the question:

As you may know, President Obama recently announced an adjustment to the administration's health-care rule regarding religiously affiliated employers providing birth control coverage to female employees. Women will still be guaranteed coverage for birth control without any out-of-pocket cost, but will have to seek the coverage directly from their insurance companies if their employers object to birth control on religious grounds. Do you approve or disapprove of President Obama's decision? 

The question, while noting "guaranteed coverage," omits the fact that the administration's "adjustment" still requires, by government mandate, that insurance companies provide birth control.

It's true that on the question of whether insurance plans ought to provide birth control coverage, the Quinnipiac polls finds 71 percent support it--but that's when the government is not mentioned. Ask the American people, as Quinnipiac also did, if they think "the federal government should require private employers to offer free birth control coverage as part of their health insurance benefit plans or not," and folks are decidedly split, with 48 percent opposing such a requirement and 47 percent supporting it.

In fact, other recent polls have confirmed this split. A Rasmussen poll conducted earlier this month found 46 percent oppose a federal law requiring insurance companies to provide birth control free of charge, with 43 percent supporting it. And a CNN poll taken immediately after the White House's policy announcement found 50 percent disapprove (with 44 percent disapproving) the policy on birth control insurance mandates.

So while today's Quinnipiac poll finds a majority support Obama's "compromise," it's clear there isn't a majority that supports the actual provisions of the White House's policy.

Update: A reader writes, "I think what the poll really shows is that Obama's 'compromise' spin polls well, not necessarily the compromise itself. A better question to actually gauge support of the 'compromise' would be 'Obama says X about his policy. Critics say Y about the policy. Do you support or oppose the policy?' 

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