US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Do Americans find birth control morally acceptable?

By Elizabeth Lefebvre | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
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Today, Gallup released its May 3-6 Values and Beliefs Survey, which included birth control for the first time on its list of controversial practices for people to rank as morally acceptable or morally wrong.

The tallies are in, and overall, 89% of adults surveyed nationwide--including a full 82% of Catholics surveyed--think that birth control is morally acceptable. (That includes 87% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats.) Divorce and gambling were the next most morally permissible activities, while having an extramarital affair ranked as the most morally wrong act. Abortion only ranked near the bottom of the list, with respondents deeming animal cloning, pornography, suicide, polygamy, human cloning, and having an affair to be morally worse than abortion. It would be interesting to see the data just for the Catholic responses here--I imagine the list would look a little different.

(Speaking of Catholic pro-life issues, Gallup points out that the 58% nationwide approval of the death penalty is the lowest that number has been in 12 years of asking the question, including coming down from 65% last year.)

Gallup notes in its presentation of this data that the moral issues in this poll are infrequently listed as the most important factors in a campaign, but how a candidate feels about one of these issues is often enough to persuade a voter. However, according to a piece in the New York Times today, the quickest way to gain a Catholic vote is through messages of social justice, equality, inclusion.

In light of the Affordable Care Act and the pending lawsuits over the contracpetion mandate, it will be interesting to see if Americans and Catholics vote their morals, their consciences, their heads, their hearts, or some combination of these.