Poll: Majority of Catholics believe employer health plans should cover contraception

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Catholic Bishops, including New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond, say a federal ruling that will require religious-affiliated employers — hospitals and colleges but not places of worship — to provide employee insurance that includes contraception is “an unprecedented attack on our religious liberty, which is a founding principle of our nation.” (Interestingly, here in New Orleans, the Catholic Loyola University now offers contraceptive coverage in its employee health insurance plan, according to the benefits handbook posted on its human resources web page.)

Their parishioners, however, feel differently, at least according to survey results released today by the Public Religion Research Institute. 55 percent of total respondents — and 58 percent of Catholic respondents — told PRRI they believed that employers should provide contraception coverage. When it comes to religiously affiliated hospitals and schools, only 49 percent of total respondents felt the same way. Among Catholics, however, 52 percent again said they felt those institutions should be required to cover birth control as part of their employee insurance.

Louisiana Sen. David Vitter (a Catholic) has signed on as a cosponsor of a bill, filed by (Catholic) Florida Republican Marco Rubio, that would extend conscience based exemptions to the requirement to any employer, not just religious institutions. Vitter didn't respond to Gambit's request for comment on the issue.

But here's what (Catholic) Sen. Mary Landrieu had to say:

“According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 87 percent of Louisiana women of all faiths have used preventive birth control methods — including preventive birth control medication — at some point in their child-bearing years. It is important that these women continue to have access to affordable, preventive birth control under a doctor’s supervision. Equally important, I am sensitive to the position and beliefs of the Catholic Church on this issue. I am taking this issue under advisement, and will be open to views from a wide variety of organizations and individuals.”

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