Americans overwhelmingly regard the debate over President Barack Obama’s policy on employer-provided contraceptive coverage as a matter of women’s health, not religious freedom, rejecting Republicans’ rationale for opposing the rule. More than three-quarters say the topic shouldn’t even be a part of the U.S. political debate.
Let's take that one claim at a time. On the question of whether this is a matter of women's rights or religious freedom, Bloomberg polled the following:
There has been recent controversy over whether education and health care facilities affiliated with religious organizations, such as the Catholic Church, should provide access to birth control through health insurance plans. Which of the following describes your view on this debate: (Read two options. Rotate.
33% - This is a matter of religious liberty
62% - This is a matter of a woman’s health and access to birth control
5% - Not sure
That is somewhat similar to the recent NY Times result, which found that 51% see this as a debate on womens's rights and 37% view this as a matter of religious freedom. However, unlike Bloomberg the Times also asked about the topic in the news; despite the preference for the "women's rights" framing, 57% thought that religiously-affiliated institutions ought to be allowed an opt-out, versus 36% who thought they should cover regardless. One might infer that a subset of respondents believes that this issue is mostly a matter of women's rights but religious freedom can still be respected and protected.
As to what Bloomberg would have found if they had asked that question, who can tell? They had a wider margin preferring the "women's rights" frame, so maybe they would not have found a clear majority favoring a religiously affiliated opt-out. Maybe. Their "Don't Ask" polling technique leaves us in the dark.
Their second claim, "More than three-quarters say the topic shouldn’t even be a part of the U.S. political debate", is utterly opaque. From the poll:
Do you believe birth control should or should not be part of the national political debate?
20% - Should
77% - Should not
So now we know. As to just what we know, I have no idea. Birth control was not part of the national debate until Obama announced his surprisingly restrictive ObamaCare rules in late January. As to whether we should be debating it now, do the Bloomberg pollsters really think (or expect us to believe) that 77% of Americans believe that anything Obama announces should be accepted without question? That doesn't quite square with his approval rating, which is somewhere near 50%.
I am confident that many people opposed to Team Obama's new rules on contraception coverage would rather be talking about jobs, jobs, jobs and real plans to spur the recovery. There may be many who think that we had a workable religious exception at the Federal level until 2009 and there is no need to be debating a change in that now.
The workings of ObamaCare have foisted this debate on us, so here we are. And until the Bloomberg pollsters work up the nerve to poll the obvious question at hand it is hard to take their results seriously.
As a clue, here is the current Times formulation:
Do you think health insurance plans for all employees should have to cover the full cost of birth control for their female employees, or should employers be allowed to opt out of covering that based on religious or moral objections?
For "all employers", 40% of respondents said "cover" while 51% said "opt-out". For religiously-affiliated employers, as noted above, the breakdown was 36%-57%.
MEANWHILE, IN ALAN COLMES LA-LA LAND: The Colmes cocooners go home to fantasy land with this headline:
77% Reject Republican Arguments On Birth Control
Improved reading comprehension and critical thinking may one day lead these reality free-basers back to reality.