In the past fortnight, pollsters have had a veritable field day asking bizarre questions about contraception, many of which have fueled the Left’s willful conflation of personal preference and government policy. The issue at hand is, it must be repeated ad nauseam, a government contraception mandate. But if one were to take the constant stream of press releases from Think Progress and their ilk at face value, one could be forgiven for concluding that the debate being had was about whether or not the United States should ban contraception.
Statistics that show that the vast majority of Americans have no issue with contraception per se have been bandied around as if they have anything whatsoever to do with the issue of a federal mandate. This is no accident. The Left knows that if it can make this issue about attitudes toward contraception rather than the role of government — and blur the line between personal preference and government policy — it will win. (This is a logical fallacy equivalent to presuming that the answers to the questions “What do you think of the KKK?” and “Should the KKK be banned?” are interchangeable.) Thankfully, CNN has separated the two things in its latest poll. And the results are revealing.
The first question CNN asked was:
As you may know, the Obama administration has announced a new policy concerning health insurance plans provided by employers, including religious organizations, and how they handle birth control and contraceptive services for women. Based on what you have read or heard, do you approve or disapprove of this policy?
No opinion 6%
As might be expected, given Obamacare’s ongoing unpopularity, more disapprove of the mandate than approve of it. The second question, which in a nation of limited government and constitutionally guaranteed liberties is interesting but wholly irrelevant, was:
Regardless of how you feel about that policy, do you agree or disagree with this statement: “Using artificial means of birth control is wrong?”
17 percent of non-Catholics polled agreed with this statement, while 81 percent disagreed. Catholics polled split 22 to 77.
The distinction between these two questions is crucial. Happily, when separated out, the data shows that Americans are capable of distinguishing between private views and public policy. Conservatives should continue to make this point; in doing so they will prevent the conversation from being hijacked.