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Pew: Public Divided Over Contraception Mandate

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The American public is narrowly divided over the Obama administration mandate on contraception coverage that had initially included all religiously-affiliated groups, according to a new Pew Research Center study.

Among the 62 percent of Americans who have heard about the rule, 48 percent support an exemption to the rule for religious institutions if they object to the use of contraceptives, and 44 percent say they should be required to cover contraceptives like other employers.  

Among religious groups, 55 percent of Catholics who have heard at least a little about the issue favor giving religious institutions that object to the use of contraceptives an exemption from the federal rule, while 39 percent oppose exempting those institutions. White evangelical Protestants, by an even larger margin (68 percent to 22 percent), favor giving religious institutions an exemption. White mainline Protestants are divided (44 percent favor an exemption, 46 percent are opposed).

By contrast, a majority (55 percent) of the religiously unaffiliated who have heard about the issue say religious institutions that object to the use of contraceptives should be required to cover them like other institutions, while 39 percent favor giving an exemption to these institutions.

The survey – conducted Feb. 8-12 -- appears to be the first snapshot of public opinion in the wake of recent debate between the Obama administration, Catholic Church and women’s groups over the contraception coverage mandate.  

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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