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Birth Control Rule Exemptions For Religious Employers Divide Americans

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A new survey finds Americans are divided on whether to allow exempt religiously affiliated colleges and universities from the requirement that they cover contraceptives for their employees. The Obama administration announced Friday that it would clarify how religiously affiliated employers could follow the contraception rule. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) | AP

Americans are divided over whether religiously affiliated non-profits should be exempt from having to cover the costs of their employees' contraception, in the wake of an announcement from the White House clarifying religious exemptions to the requirement.

According to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, Americans are more likely to support the Affordable Care Act provision requiring employers to provide health care plans for their employees that cover the costs of contraceptives, with 45 percent in favor and 37 percent opposed. But the survey also found that Americans are equally divided on whether religiously affiliated colleges and universities should be exempt from that requirement, with 39 percent saying they should be exempt and 39 percent saying they should not be.

The Obama administration clarified the religious exemption to the contraception rule on Friday, announcing that non-profit organizations with a religious focus could shift the costs of their employees' contraceptives to third-party insurers, which would provide coverage through separate plans.

Women who responded to the survey were more likely than men to support a contraceptive requirement for employer health care plans generally. Women supported the rule by a 50 percent to 33 percent margin, while men were divided, with 41 percent in support and 42 percent opposed. But both men and women were equally divided on whether there should be a religious exemption to the rule (men at 41 percent to 41 percent, women at 37 percent to 38 percent).

The survey also found a deep partisan divide on the issue. Democrats supported the contraception rule 72 percent to 12 percent and opposed an exemption for religiously affiliated employers 57 percent to 21 percent. Republicans opposed the contraceptive rule 65 percent to 18 percent and supported an exemption 64 percent to 17 percent. Independents fell in between, opposing the contraceptive rule 44 percent to 37 percent and supporting an exemption 42 percent to 36 percent.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Feb. 1-2 among 1,000 U.S. adults. The poll used a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling.

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