New Poll Shows American Voters Believe Birth Control Is a Health Issue
Today, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops begins their “Fortnight for Freedom” to gin up efforts to roll back women’s access to affordable birth control. But is this what the majority of Americans want?
A new Planned Parenthood Federation of America and National Women’s Law Center poll shows that the Catholic bishops are out of touch with American voters. Seventy-three percent of voters (including 80 percent of women and 78 percent of Independents) agree that all women should have access to affordable birth control — cost should not be a barrier that keeps women from accessing this basic and essential preventive care.
For women, birth control is a pocketbook issue. Women can pay up to $600 per year for birth control — that’s money that could be used to put food on the table, the equivalent of five weeks of groceries. And struggling to afford access to birth control is no anomaly — 34 percent of women voters have struggled to afford prescription birth control, and as a result have used birth control inconsistently.
On a broader scale, access to birth control benefits the country at large — unintended pregnancies cost the nation $11 billion per year, and it’s been shown that every dollar invested in family planning saves $3.74 in Medicaid expenses. It’s both an economic and health imperative for women, families, and the country at large. So it’s no wonder that a majority of American voters agree. By a 20 point margin, 56 percent of American voters believe access to affordable birth control is, in fact, a women’s health issue.
When you take a look at the numbers and the widespread support for access to affordable birth control, you really have to wonder why the Catholic bishops are taking this on. Why are they weighing in on an issue that a majority of Americans believe is a health issue and not a religious issue?
Given the tremendous support of contraception by American voters, it’s surprising that women have to continue to make the case about the health imperatives of birth control. Perhaps the bishops should reconsider their campaign.