Hearings on the contraceptive mandate, before the U.S. Supreme Court, suggest that we may see a split ruling—with the ultimate decision in the hands of Justice Kennedy. Could this split decision also be reflected in shifting public opinion about the contraceptive mandate?
The cases before the high court concern whether for-profit corporations can opt out of the contraceptive mandate if it violates the religious principles of the corporate owners. The issue is not about all forms of contraception, but only those that end life after conception, such as the morning-after pill.
Court observer Lyle Denniston recaps the argument, calling it “one hearing, two dramas.” In his post on the Supreme Court of the United States blog, he says that that one drama was played by the liberal justices who oppose opting out on religious grounds and the other drama by the conservative justices who appear to support it.
Yesterday, I reported on a national poll about this issue, conducted in early March. A majority of Americans (53%) said that corporations should not be exempt from covering birth control in their insurance plans, even if violates the owner’s religious principles. Forty-one percent disagreed, saying that a corporation should be able to opt out if its owners have religious objections.
Now, a poll taken just this week by Rasmussen Reports shows a different pattern: 40% oppose the religious exemption for the contraceptive mandate, compared to 49% who support it. A December 2012 poll by Rasmussen Reports showed somewhat less support for the religious exemption and somewhat more opposition to it.
Polls sometimes disagree. When they do, there are several possibilities. One is that sample procedures are different, resulting in a pool of respondents who are different in some way. Critics of Rasmussen Reports have said the pollster has a conservative bias. Another possibility is that the questions are worded differently. And, sometimes, polls different because they reflect shifts in public opinion.
Do you think that public opinion has shift about religious exemptions to the contraceptive mandate?
Has your opinion changed, and if so, why?