Planned Parenthood poll: Voters side with Obama over Romney on birth-control mandate

Attacks on the Obama administration’s controversial birth-control mandate could end up hurting Mitt Romney in the presidential race, according to a new poll commissioned by Planned Parenthood.

Romney, the front-runner for the GOP nomination, has pledged to repeal a new White House policy requiring employers provide coverage for contraception in their employees’ health insurance plans. Churches would be exempt from the mandate, but other religious organizations — such as Catholic universities and hospitals — would have to comply.

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The new survey, conducted by Public Policy Polling, suggests that Romney doesn’t stand to gain much ground by attacking the controversial mandate. Only 23 percent of those polled said they’re more likely to vote for Romney because of his pledge to roll back the requirement, while 40 percent said they’re less likely to support him.

“Romney’s posturing on this issue over the past 24 hours really has the potential to hurt him with some of these key groups,” PPP Director Tom Johnson said. “He’s sort of playing with fire here.”

Johnson said the issue has the potential to resonate through the campaign season on its own, but that Planned Parenthood — a prominent supporter of Obama's birth-control mandate — is also in a strong position to advance its case. The group can capitalize on its political victory over the Susan G. Komen foundation, he said.

“I think the Komen thing got a lot of voters fired and up and supportive of Planned Parenthood,” Johnson said. “This fight is another one where Planned Parenthood will be able to sustain the energy from the Komen controversy.”

The PPP survey found that 56 percent of voters — and 53 percent of Catholic voters — support the administration’s birth-control mandate. By roughly the same margins, voters and Catholic voters agreed specifically that women employed by Catholic universities and hospitals “should have the same rights to contraceptive coverage as other women.”

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