Two months ago, the healthcare debate focused on birth control and, most notably, the Catholic Church. As part of the nation’s new health care law, employers are be required to offer free preventive care services in their insurance policies, including contraceptives. An exemption was made for churches and other religious organizations who object. Many Catholic leaders objected strongly, saying it violates the religious liberties of Catholic-affiliated hospitals, schools, and charities.
The Rush Limbaugh happened. He commandeered the headlines for days when he called a Georgetown law school student a slut and a prostitute because she spoke in favor of mandatory insurance coverage for contraception. As the debate raged over whether he would apologize and how many advertisers his program would lose, the policy issue of contraception coverage was mostly forgotten.
Not by us. We asked North Carolinians about it.
Forty-nine percent of North Carolinians say that employers should be allowed to opt out of covering contraceptives for their female employers. Forty-three percent say employers should be required to cover the full cost of contraceptives. The margin of error is 4.2%. (We didn’t poll on whether it was acceptable to call anyone those names, although some people have defended Limbaugh’s right to say them.)
This controversy ties up a lot of complicated issues: health care, big government, presidential politics, birth control and religion. (Ten percent of North Carolinians are Catholic, and the 50% of the residents consider themselves “very religious.”) Couple that with a streak of libertarianism, and it’s not surprising that most of the state’s residents don’t think employers should bear the cost.
Incidentally, as for Rush Limbaugh, the tempest has blown over and advertisers are coming back.
— John Robinson