Nine in 10 Americans say contraception is ‘morally acceptable’

Posted on May 22, 2012

Washington Post, May 22, 2012 by

As the debate over the Obama administration’s contraception mandate heats up, a Gallup survey shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that birth control is “morally acceptable.”

President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. (Mark Wilson — Getty Images)

The Gallup poll shows that 89 percent of national adults — including 90 percent of non-Catholics and 82 percent of Catholics — view contraception as morally acceptable. The survey showed little difference across party lines: 87 percent of Republicans, 90 percent of Democrats and 89 percent of independents said they believe birth control is morally acceptable.

The survey, which was conducted May 3-6, adds a new data point to the debate over the Obama administration’s health care rules. On Monday, 43 plaintiffs — including 13 Catholic dioceses as well as the University of Notre Dame — filed lawsuits seeking to overturn the administration’s rule requiring religious-affiliated institutions to provide contraception coverage to their employees.

Previous polls on the contraception issue suggest that the matter is not simply a question of morality, however.

A February Gallup survey showed Americans were split on the contraception mandate debate: 48 percent of national adults said they sympathized more with the views of religious leaders, while 45 percent said they sympathized more with the Obama administration. The survey had a four percentage point margin of error.

In that survey, partisan differences played a much greater role than in the May Gallup poll on contraception and morality. Eighty-three percent of Republicans surveyed by Gallup in May said they sympathized more with religious leaders, while 76 percent of Democrats said they sided with the Obama administration; independents were split 45-percent-to-45-percent.

Contraception is viewed as the most “morally acceptable” of 17 items in the latest Gallup survey. The least acceptable? Married men and women having an affair, viewed as morally acceptable by only 7 percent of respondents.

Unsurprisingly, the poll shows a wide partisan gap on views of morality when it comes to hot-button issues such as abortion, gay and lesbian relations, extramarital sex, the death penalty and medical testing on animals. Birth control — along with human and animal cloning and extramarital affairs — is among the issues where the partisan divide is narrowest.

For the full survey results, click here.

Posted in: United States