guest blogger: ffr
Over the past couple of months the Obama administration has adopted a rule requiring employers to provide “free” birth control (the employee’s health insurance pays) to all of their employees. This rule provides an exemption for “religious organizations that primarily employ people of their own faith” but not for religious employers who employ people of other faiths. In other words, the rule also mandates that Roman Catholics and other religious affiliated hospitals and colleges provide birth control through the institutions’ insurance companies. Although this policy has gained the support of many women, as well as a large majority of Democrats, there is a large opposition to this new controversial issue.
One major opposition towards this rule is caused by its requirement for religious institutions to provide free contraception. Among the largest opposition groups are men, although there is also a significant number of women against free contraception in regards to religious institutions as well.
The Wall Street Journal/NBC News, under Republican pollster Bill McInturff, conducted a poll asking whether the government should mandate that Roman Catholic and other religious affiliated hospitals and colleges offer birth control paid by the institutions’ insurance companies. Results showed that American’s were opposed—although only by a small plurality—45% to 38%, with women split down the middle with 40% approval and 40% disapproval.
When the poll asked more specific questions such as whether these religious institutions should provide birth control such as the morning after pill, the opposition rose 49% with women’s opposition rising as well to 46%.
However, in the same poll, when asked if employers should provide overall free birth control the respondents favored the rule 53% to 33% (with women specifically approving 58% to 28%).
Surprisingly enough, Catholics who were surveyed generally approved of employers providing free birth control, but opposed the requirement of Catholic institutions to provide such means of contraception.
Obama’s attempt to create a new birth control law is a perfect example of how the executive branch can create administrative laws and policies through bureaucratic decision-making.
Administrative laws are laws that govern administrative agencies of government (i.e. bureaucracies). Therefore, bureaucracies are required to carry out any policies that the president creates through administrative laws—thus creating new public law.
But will religious organizations be able to challenge this upcoming policy through freedom of religion in the First Amendment and the free exercise clause?
As displayed by this poll, Obama’s attempt at a new birth control policy is unquestionably a very controversial issue both among Republicans and Democrats, as well as women and men, and will most likely be taking a prominent role come election time.