Most Americans support the Obamacare provision requiring employers to provide birth control coverage for their workers at no additional cost, according to new polling conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), and don’t believe that corporations should be able to claim religious liberty exemptions to get out of this policy.
According to PRRI’s findings, about six in ten Americans believe that both publicly held and privately owned corporations should be required to follow Obamacare’s birth control provision. Majorities of respondents maintained that belief even in the cases of religiously affiliated institutions, like colleges and hospitals. Churches are the only type of employers that most Americans agree shouldn’t have to offer copay-free birth control.
“Americans make a clear distinction between churches, which most believe should be exempt, and other types of organizations,” Dr. Robert P. Jones, the CEO of PRRI, noted in a statement.
PRRI’s polling comes as the Supreme Court is poised to hand down a decision regarding this exactly this question about Obamacare’s birth control coverage. In one of the most closely watched cases of the year, two for-profit companies argued they should be exempt from this particular federal law because covering birth control violates their religious beliefs.
If Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties win their case, they’ll be allowed to invoke religious liberty even though they’re not religiously affiliated companies — something that could open the door to allow other business owners to cite their faith to justify discrimination against LGBT Americans. That potential future is deeply unpopular with the general public, according to PRRI’s new polling. Just 16 percent of participants said that businesses should be able to deny services from gay and lesbian individuals on religious grounds.
This is hardly the first polling that has confirmed the popularity of Obamacare’s birth control coverage. A recent survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found an even stronger majority in support of the policy, as about seven in ten respondents said that companies should cover the full cost of contraception in their insurance plans. Another poll found that two thirds of female voters hope that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood lose their Supreme Court case. PRRI has consistently found that most religious Americans are supportive of expanding birth control coverage, too.
About 14,000 workers are employed at the two companies that are currently seeking to eliminate coverage for birth control prescriptions and counseling. In addition to the two plaintiffs, more than 70 other companies also sued over this Obamacare provision, and likely wouldn’t hesitate to remove contraceptive coverage if the ruling goes their way.
Those bosses are contemplating what could work out to be a very poor business decision for their companies. Including coverage for contraception in workers’ health plans actually tends to save money in the long run, thanks to the high medical costs of pregnancy and childbirth. Research has also shown that ensuring women have access to the pill helps them invest in their careers and remain in the workforce.