Poll: drop birth-control mandate for all employers

The CBS-New York Times Poll finds that a majority of Americans believe that all employers - not just religiously affiliated ones - should be released from the contraception mandate if they object on moral grounds. The poll, conducted March 7-11, found that 51 percent of those surveyed said employers should be able to opt out. Only 40 percent said all employers should be required to provide the coverage.There's been enough variation in the polls taken on this issue that advocates on both sides can selectively trumpet results that make the case that they have public support. Even in this poll, there is a second question showing that the majority of Americans think the contraception issue is more about women's health than about religious freedom.In sum, though, I think the polls to date show that the issue is not without political hazards for President Obama and the Democrats in the November election. I'm not sure they would agree - they seem to think it's an advantage.The issue is also not without hazards for the bishops, who risk driving away even more Catholics from the church if their campaign is perceived as partisan.To follow on David Gibson's post, I'd say it's in the interest of both Obama and the bishops to negotiate for real.

Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses. 

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