Should Birth Control be Covered Under All Health Plans? Americans Say 'Yes'

First Posted: Apr 22, 2014 06:16 PM EDT

The Supreme Court plans to issue a ruling in June on the Affordable Care Act's requirement for employers to guarantee birth control and emergency contraceptives in employee health plans. Many Americans support that notion.

On Tuesday a study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that revealed 69% of Americans support a policy of mandated coverage of birth control medication in health plans. The study, "Attitudes About Mandated Coverage of Birth Control Medication and Other Health Benefits in a US National Sample," surveyed 3,504 people.

The Supreme Court heard the case brought forth by the Oklahoma-based arts-and-crafts chain, Hobby Lobby, on March 25. The company is owned by Southern Baptists, one of the many religious groups outraged by the provision in the Affordable Care Act. However, the owners of the company were not concerned about birth control that prevents contraception; they're outraged about providing emergency contraceptives such as the "morning-after" pill, which they believe act after fertilization and destroy embryos.

Based on the study in JAMA, 77% of the women surveyed and 64% of the men were in favor of mandated birth control. The support was significantly higher among women, non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, parents with children younger than 18 years living in the home, and adults with private or public insurance vs. comparison groups.

"Support is higher among individuals who may be more likely to directly benefit from affordable birth control," said study researcher Dr. Michelle Moniz, an OB/GYN at the University of Michigan Medical School, in this Live Science article.

The legal question for the Supreme Court remains: do corporate employers with religious objections have to include contraceptive coverage in their employee health plans? On the other hand, the scientific issue questions whether certain forms of birth control prevent contraception or destroy a fertilized egg. Whatever the answer may be, it will be announced in June when the justices arrive at their decision.

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