The Washington Post

Why birth control is a good wedge issue against the GOP

Some time around the end of February, the Senate will vote on the Blunt-Rubio amendment, which would allow insurers and employers to deny coverage for birth control or any other medical services simply on the grounds that they find them morally objectionable.

The vote was originally set for this week, but a Senate Dem leadership aide confirms to me that it will actually take place after next week’s recess, for various procedural reasons. The aide insists this will gives Dems more time to attack Republicans over the issue. “It gives us more time to build up the vote and draw more attention to the cliff Republicans are going out of their way to jump off of,” the aide says.

I’ve been speculating here that this could actually prove a good wedge issue against the GOP, in spite of the fact that much of the commentary has focued on how bad this could be for Democrats, because it could hurt them among Catholic swing voters.

Some new numbers sent my way suggest that it really could be problematic for Republicans.

Today’s New York Times/CBS poll asks: “Do you support or oppose a recent federal requirement that private health insurance plans cover the full cost of birth control for their female patients?”

This is Obama’s new accommodation policy, which the Blunt amendment would roll back completely and go considerably further in the process. Sixty six percent support this federal requirement; only 26 percent oppose it.

CBS’s polling team sends over a partisan breakdown of the answers, and it’s even more striking:

* Even Republicans support this policy, 50-44.

* Independents support it by 64-26.

* Moderates support it by 68-22.

* Women support it by 72-20.

* Catholics support it by 67-25.

* And even Catholics who attend church every week or almost every week support it by 48-43.

So you can see why the Dem aide quoted above is hopeful that GOP support for the Blunt-Rubio amendment is akin to jumping off a cliff.

Is it okay to call this a wedge issue yet?


UPDATE: Republicans argue that this debate is still about whether religious instiutions should be compelled to provide such coverage.

The NYT/CBS poll also tested this question, asking: “what about for religiously affiliated employers, such as a hospital or university — do you support or oppose a recent federal requirement that their health insurance plans cover the full cost of birth control for their female employees?”

Registered voters say Yes, 61-31; independents say Yes, 59-31; moderates say Yes, 64-29; and even 41 percent of Republicans say Yes, with 53 percent opposed.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.


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