A New York Times/CBS poll on Tuesday confirmed what some faith-based organizations are saying – that the issue of the contraceptive mandates is a religious liberty issue. The poll showed that 57 percent of Americans agree that faith-based employers should be allowed to bypass President Obama's mandate to cover birth control for women.
A slightly smaller majority of 51 percent said that all employers should be allowed to opt out of covering the full cost of birth control for women.
The issue has drawn the ire of many religious-affiliated institutions such as hospitals and universities which objected to the Obama administrations heavy-handed mandate that would require them to violate one of their most core beliefs.
In January, the Department of Health and Human Services announced the mandate, saying that all employers who provided employee health insurance had to cover contraception and sterilization for all women.
Included in the mandate were drugs known as Plan B and "ella" that act after fertilization, causing chemical abortions.
A few weeks later the administration tried to back-track on the mandate by saying that religious institutions could opt-out, but their insurance companies still had to provide coverage. That did not sit well with those employers who are self-insured.
The revision did little to win the support of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who called the mandate an "unprecedented attack" on religious liberty.
Bishop William Lori, who chairs the U.S. bishops' committee on religious freedom, says he still holds some hope in finding common ground with the White House on the issue, but indicated talks have reached an impasse.
"I think the hardest thing is that the administration deals with us in a segmented way," Lori told Catholic World News. "The Obama administration has sought to enlist the support of liberal Catholic groups for the HHS mandate, and put pressure on the bishops to follow the lead of those groups, rather than attempting serious negotiations with the hierarchy."
The same poll unveiled some further information that highlights how Americans feel about the president's ability to make the right decisions about health care. Of those who were surveyed, 54 percent said they either had little or no confidence in President Obama to lead on this issue.
None of the Republican presidential candidates polled as low on the issue of health care as President Obama.
The poll was conducted March 7-11 with 1,009 individuals, of which 878 were registered voters.