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A new poll shows that a supermajority of Americans believe that in a conflict between religious freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment and a federal law mandating abortion or abortion coverage, the First Amendment trumps.

In the Knights of Columbus-Marist Poll, nearly three in four Americans, 74 percent, said freedom of religion should be protected “even if it conflicts with other laws.”

Majorities of Americans also would protect the First Amendment conscience rights of health care workers, insurers and hospitals, the poll said.

“This survey reveals that the American people are fundamentally dedicated to protecting the First Amendment conscience rights of everyone,” said Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson. “Allowing people to opt out of these procedures or services – which violate their faith – is the right thing to do. It is also key to protecting the First Amendment rights of all Americans and enjoys strong public support as well.”

The Knights of Columbus-Marist poll surveyed 1,606 adults from May 10 through May 14. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the continental United States were interviewed by telephone with live interviewers. Telephone numbers were selected based upon a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the nation. The exchanges were selected to ensure that each region was represented in proportion to its population. To increase coverage, the land-line sample was supplemented by respondents reached through random dialing of cell phone numbers. The two samples were then combined. Results are statistically significant within plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

The poll comes just as the latest challenge to Obamacare, the White House’s signature law that nationalizes health-care decision-making, is developing. The law already is under a constitutional challenge in a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, and a decision is expected in a few weeks.

But in the latest challenge, dozens of the highest-profile Catholic organizations filed a series of lawsuits challenging Obama’s unprecedented mandate that “attacks the freedom to practice religion without government interference.”

Under the Obamacare mandate, employers are required to provide insurance that includes abortion-causing drugs as well as contraceptives and sterilization. The Catholic organizations say the law violates their core religious and moral convictions.

Franciscan University president Terence Henry said: “Franciscan University’s mission is and always has been to teach from the heart of the church. The Obama administration’s mandate is a grave threat to our ability to carry out that mission.”

He continued, “It makes it impossible for us to operate freely as a Catholic institution without overbearing and invasive governmental interference.”

At Human Events, John Hayward noted: “Obamacare’s assault on economic and religious liberty is happening right now. The expansion of government necessarily involves the loss of individual liberty; the state consumes everything else as it grows. Every new book of regulations is a list of things we are no longer allowed to do …. or, perhaps even more troubling, a list of things we must do.

“The absolute rights of individuals are not, by definition, subject to review and suspension by the state. It doesn’t matter if the state has really good intentions. It makes no difference if a vocal minority, or even an absolute majority, of the people offer their support for suspension of a core liberty. It doesn’t matter if respect for that liberty proves inconvenient. … Liberty is incompatible with the notion of a government that can draw its own boundaries, and redraw them whenever popular resistance against its appetite for power flags a little.”

The poll also indicates that strong majorities would let individual health care providers and organizations opt out of providing abortion, by 58 percent to 38 percent.

Also, the respondents said there should be opt-outs for: abortion-inducing drugs, 51-44 percent; in vitro fertilization treatments that could result in the death of an embryo, 52-41 percent; medication to speed the death of a terminally ill patient, 55-41 percent; and birth control pills, 51-46 percent.

“The number supporting the right to opt out of providing birth control is particularly interesting given the fact that more than eight in 10 Americans (88 percent) believe contraception is morally acceptable,” the report said.

The survey found that half of Americans have heard of the debate over the government’s health care mandate. In addition, a strong majority of Americans, 52-31 percent, also indicated that laws have made it more difficult to follow one’s religious beliefs in recent years. Nearly 9 in 10 Americans also agree that religious leaders should speak out on issues of religious freedom, the poll showed.

The survey found that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that forcing health care workers and doctors to provide abortion – when they object for religious reasons – is morally wrong, 72-27 percent. Majorities also said that abortion (58-40 percent) and same-sex marriage (52-45 percent) are morally wrong.

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