New Poll: Americans oppose using religion to deny reproductive health services

Oct 25, 2012, 13:20 ET from Catholics for Choice

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new poll, jointly commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union and Catholics for Choice, shows that Americans reject policies that allow institutions to refuse to provide reproductive health services on religious grounds.

Key findings:

  • The great majority of Americans (81%) believe that the law should not allow companies or other institutions to use religious beliefs to decide whether to offer a service to some people and not others.
  • 77% of Americans, and an equal proportion of Catholics, object to pharmacies refusing to fill birth control prescriptions.
  • 87% of Americans (and a similar percentage of Catholics), say that a doctor should not be allowed to withhold information about fetal defects for fear a woman might consider an abortion.
  • 62% of Americans and 59% of Catholics oppose allowing a Catholic hospital to decline to perform an abortion that is medically necessary to protect a woman's health.
  • 88% of Americans and 86% of Catholics believe voters don't have an obligation to follow a Catholic bishop's recommendation on how to vote. 79% of Americans and 75% of Catholics believe Catholic politicians don't have an obligation to follow the hierarchy's directives.

John Russonello, a partner at Belden Russonello Strategists LLC who carried out the poll, said, "The survey makes it clear that most Americans believe that a person in a health-related field should not be allowed to deny a service because of his or her religious beliefs. The poll should put an end to the discussion of how much political influence the Catholic bishops have. It demonstrated overwhelmingly that American Catholics do not feel any obligation to follow the bishops on politics."

Sara Hutchinson, domestic program director at Catholics for Choice, said, "This poll comes at an important time as the bishops ramp up their opposition to contraceptive coverage. It shows the rift between what the bishops would like all of us to think and what Americans and American Catholics actually think."

Louise Melling, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, noted, "We absolutely support the right of religious freedom, but the right to free exercise in America does not mean the right to impose your views on others. We can no more tolerate efforts to use religion to discriminate when it comes to issues like the current fight over contraception, than we could when religion was unsuccessfully used as an excuse to resist integration during the civil rights movement."

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SOURCE Catholics for Choice