A recent study shows that a woman’s views on religion may not be correlated with their views on health care for birth control coverage. The University of Michigan study found mixed opinions on the topic, with Protestants (66%) and Catholics (63%) most likely to agree that health plans should cover contraceptive, ahead of both non-religious women (59%) and women with religious affiliation other than Christian (59%). Baptists (48%) and other Christians (45%) were the least likely to support birth control coverage.
Overall, 56% of women support required health coverage of birth control, and less than 25% of women thought employers should be exempt from the law due to religion. Author Elizabeth Patton, M.D., M.Phil, M.Sc., says:
“We wanted to examine the relationship between religious affiliation and a woman’s views on reproductive health care policy and what we found was that one didn’t necessarily predict the other. Debates surrounding reproductive health care have often been framed as religious versus non-religious but that’s not an accurate narrative. Our findings show that religious women’s attitudes toward policies affecting reproductive health care are much more complex than they are often portrayed. The differences in opinions about these policies between religious women and non-religious women are not always as striking as some may believe.”
The Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage law was changed last year when several companies complained that providing contraceptive coverage went against their religious views. Elizabeth Patton comments “When religion enters political discussions, we tend to hear from politicians, business leaders or church leaders who are often the most vocal, but these voices don’t represent the religious community as a whole,”
“Political debates in the U.S. about reproductive health and religion continue. These policies primarily affect women – the vast majority of whom identify with a religion – and we need to ensure their viewpoints are heard so that misconceptions aren’t perpetuated in these conversations.”
“We need to be aware of the complexity of how religion affects women’s views so we can design reproductive health policies that truly reflect the beliefs and desires of most women in our country.”