The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is promising a legal challenge to federal rules the Obama administration reaffirmed Friday requiring health insurers to provide women with a range of preventive health services, including birth control, without charging a co-payment, co-insurance or deductible.
The Department of Health and Human Services made no changes to a rule released in August that exempted some religious organizations, like those that employ or serve people who follow its religion, from the requirement. But religious organizations that do not meet those qualifications would be required to provide contraceptive coverage to employees. While churches are exempt, for example, religious universities and hospitals are not.
The rule goes into effect Aug. 1. Religious institutions that aren’t exempt get an additional year, until August 1, 2013, to comply with the regulation.
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she believed Friday’s announcement “strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services.”
Abortion rights opponents had challenged the rule, which is part of the health law, arguing that contraception violates the religious beliefs of some Americans, and that some forms of emergency contraception, including Plan B, are akin to early abortion. Religious groups also wanted a broader exemption. Friday’s announcement didn’t make them any happier.
“There really is no change,” said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the bishops. “What has been announced is that they are going to delay an enforcement. It’s as if they said ‘We’ll give you a year to figure out how to violate your conscience.’” The bishops’ group “will fight this edict; they have no choice but to fight this edict,” she said.
Other Catholic organizations were also upset. The Catholic Health Association called Friday’s announcement “a missed opportunity to be clear on appropriate conscience protection,” Sister Carol Keehan, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.
But abortion right proponents, who feared the Obama administration might back down from the original rule, were pleased.
Planned Parenthood praised the ruling, saying that it is “grounded in sound medical science and health policy and protects access to affordable birth control for millions of women, including women who are employed by a religiously affiliated hospital, university, or other religiously affiliated organization that serves the broader public.”
Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said the decision means that “millions will get access to contraception—and they will not have to ask their bosses for permission.”
HHS officials said Friday that the agency had received approximately 200,000 comments on the regulation, which covers all Food and Drug Administration approved forms of birth control. While emergency contraception is covered, abortion is not, they said.
Friday’s announcement will no doubt give Democrats and Republicans alike new ammunition in their ongoing debate over the sweeping health law that has been under attack ever since President Barack Obama signed it nearly two years ago.
Proponents of the law hailed the announcement as additional proof that it is expanding coverage for all Americans. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., said the decision “marks a tremendous victory for women’s health and equality, and will ensure that women have access to affordable contraceptive coverage.”
Conservatives who oppose the health law point to the ruling as another example of the administration overstepping the rights of individuals and institutions. “This ruling forces religious organizations to violate the fundamental tenets of their faith, or stop offering health insurance coverage to their employees,” said Chris Jacobs, health policy analyst for the Republican Policy Committee.
–Kaiser Health News
This is the same administration that goes to bat for illegal aliens by refusing to enforce immigration laws, to the extent of taking states to court for trying to combat the problem due to the federal government shirking its responsibility.
This is the same administration that to this day has not answered for Fast & Furious, with not a single official reprimanded for the criminal malfeasance of arming the Mexican drug cartels with machine guns and explosive weaponry and has directly resulted in the deaths of several people, including a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
This is the same administration that routinely commits unprovoked acts of war against an ever-expanding list of sovereign nations without Congressional authorization, resulting in an untold number of civilian casualties, thus breeding the next generation of enemies.
This is the same administration that is antagonizing Iran with sanctions and embargoes, and rattling sabers by sending ships into Iran’s territorial waters.
When will partisan Democrats finally realize that Black Jimmy Carter is just more of the same?
It’s astounding how some fret about non-existent “rights” like free casual sex on the dime of other people, while the basic liberties actually safeguarded in the Bill of Rights like due process and habeas corpus are being thrown out the window with the NDAA.
Some of the comments reflect the profound confusion of the masses. Misunderstanding of separation of Church and State which isn’t in the Constitution. It’s a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to a Baptist Congregation. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religious expression. Why do people think that people of faith cannot voice their opinions in the public square? Why do people bring up the sex scandal whenever they is a direct attack on The Church as the actions of a few should negate all the good the Church has done. One comment suggest that the Church should give up all their property without realizing that the Catholic Church is one of the biggest contributors to charity. They don’t see that forcing people to go against their consciences and beliefs is wrong and all these comments are irrelevent to that.
Angela: Are you calling mandates forcing people to go against their consciences the political process? Birth control and sterilization aren’t healthcare because pregnancy isn’t a disease as some apparently believe. Conceiving is a natural thing and points to health. You notice the Obama administration is not forcing us to pay for invitro fertilization which is also against the teachings of our religion, because their agenda is to stop the transmission of life. It is so ignorant to believe that people of faith should not be allowed to influence the political process or have a voice in the public square. We are guaranteed freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Why should we be forced to pay or provide for something that we believe is morally wrong?
Anita: Anita, we are not forcing our beliefs on the nation at large. We are simply trying to run our hospitals and institions according to our beliefs. It is the government that is trying to force its beliefs on us which is tyranny and oppression. Do you not believe that people should be allowed to exercise their religious beliefs in their own schools and hospitals? Does the government have the right to force us to perform elective sterilization procedures and dispense abortifacient drugs in your opinion? That’s not freedom.
Muslims don’t use contraception. If you look around, you will notice that there are more of them than Christians in many countries. At the same time many European countries are not having children because the birth rate is less than replacement so western civilization is dying out. Traditional Jews believed that children were a gift from God, but present Jews are not believers in God according to Israeli state tourist bureau. I really don’t know what the stance of Mormons is on artificial birth control. You think that the “alliance” has all but put a stop to legal abortion, but there are still more 4,000 a day in this country alone and that is not counting chemical abortions that are far more than surgical. Abortion is a money making industry. Don’t believe that it has anything to do with freedom or helping women. The abortion lobby is huge and they are electing legislatures with their blood money.
Flagler, That is a misconception that contraception prevents abortion and I’ll tell you why. The contraception mentality leads to abortion when contraception fails as it often does. Many contraceptive devices and drugs are actually abortifacient. They cause the death of the embryo(the fertilized egg) because the human being cannot attach itself to the uterine wall. Since the legalization of “the Pill” abortion and sexual immorality have increased just as predicted by Paul VI in his eycylical Humanae Vitae. Contraception is intrinsically evil because the purpose of the sexual act is the transmission of life. When you take that away it becomes purely a selfish act and it should be a gift of self. That’s why there are so many selfish people in this world because they can’t truly love and they don’t know how to sacrifice for others.
JL: Choice in America, JL? Is that what you call forcing the Catholic Church to provide sterilization and contraceptives? People use that term choice rather loosely. We should have the choice to do what is right, not the choice to do anything we want. The Church cannot control all it’s members who do have a free will. The Church proposes not imposes and unfortunately the Body of Christ has been affected by the secularization of the world. The gate is narrow and few enter through it as Our Lord told us.
Bobbie Sue Walton Vaught via Facebook says
Then tell your followers not to use it. If they are faithful followers of your religion then it shouldn’t be an issue.
Don’t mind you using it, Bobbie Sue. I just don’t want to pay for it.
Bobbie Sue, forcing Catholics to pay for “healthcare” that is sinful, forces us to PARTICIPATE in that sin. Do whatever you want, as long as it doesn’t affect me. Forcing me (or my fellow Catholics) to PAY for your choices violates the First Amendment. This one will be shot down in the courts (probably all the way to SCOTUS) due to the lack of TRUE freedom of conscience clause.
Sandra Reynolds via Facebook says
Hey, what happened to separation of church and state?
Your question begs another question: why is the State trying to control the Church?! The main philosophy behind this concept was to PREVENT the government from taking over the church, as it did in England, thus forcing religious beliefs and codes upon it’s people. This law is a clear declaration that the government wishes to control religious and moral codes of all it’s citizens (tyranny).
Angela Smith via Facebook says
If the Catholic Church wants to poke its nose into the political process, they need to start PAYING TAXES; until they do, they must stick to the pulpit.
I believe I have the right to practice my religion, whatever it is, without the government telling me how to do it. Works both ways.
and we care what a group led by a Nazi youth leader who wears frilly dresses, gaudy jewelry, funny hats and patent leather pumps says because ????
Assuming one is Roman Catholic, how is it the clergy is so intent on “protecting” the conscience of already indoctrinated adults and so lax in defending the innocence of children? Devout Catholics know enough of their catechism and the strictures of the Church to decide whether or not to risk their souls by using contraceptives. But, what of Jews, Protestants, Muslims , Mormons and Atheists for whom no such prohibitions exist? For better or worse, their alliance with newly-minted Evangelicals has all but put a stop to legal abortion, altogether. But to interpret “Freedom of Religion” as freedom to enforce your beliefs on the nation at large is Olympic Class chutzpah.
You will forgive me, Anita, but to many of us, any abortion is murder. And we are not necessarily religious.
As long as you don’t expect my tax dollars to pay for it, what you do with your body is up to you. Fair enough?
I understand what you are saying, but the First Amendment also guarantees the church, any church, the right to practice its religion without interference from the government.
It seems to me the government is violating that premise here. In other words, the government does not have the right to tell the church how to practice its beliefs in matters of birth control or religion.
It is the government that is overreaching here.
Obama forcing his beliefs on the church is not freedom.
The government is poking its nose into the Church by forcing her members to pay for something that goes against their morality and conscience.
“Freedom of Religion” should also be understood as a right of mine to detach myself from acts I deem ethically (morally) wrong. The government, through this tax bill, if FORCING me to financially support something I personally believe is againest my religious principles I hold dear. If the government sees fit to pass laws requiring employers to accomodate an employee’s religious beliefs concerning work on the Sabbath, etc., then they should hold THEMSELVES responsible for allowing religious people/institutions (with convictions opposing this bill) to be exempt from this tax. I feel if some people support contraception (deemed medically necessary or not), then they should donate their own money and leave those who oppose it alone.
John Boy says
Almost all women use birth control of some sort, regarless of their religious views. It sounds good to support the churches view while screwing your hearts out. The church should get with and start to prosectute the priests who have done more damage to our children thean all the good the church has done since it was created.
Ah,the hypocrisy of the left; if a Christmas tree shows up on public property they shove (their interpretation) of the Constitution in your face screaming “seperation of church and state.” These same people have no problem now with the government telling religious organizations what they can and can’t do. As far as “fast and furious” goes, you forgot to mention how many Mexican citizens were killed with the guns our government put on their streets. Can you imagine if Mexico sent bombs into this country and they killed hundreds of our citizens? The Obama administration has basically supplied weapons to Mexican terrorists and they were used against citizens of Mexico. And this gets no “mainstream” media attention???
Geezer Butler says
Catholic bishops huh? Let’s just say that I wouldn’t allow a single one to babysit a boy or a girl.
Let’s just say that there’s a credibility vacuum at the Vatican. A moral vacuum, a heterosexual vacuum, and the biggest vacuum of them all – the big vacuum for money that they use to suck from parishioners.
It’s a big ‘ol Electrolux. (they can end all world hunger with their liquid assets)
Sending 18-year-old American kids to the middle east = murder too.
They kill, and get killed – for American corporate interests.
Where’s the uproar for that?
Quarter to Million-dollar missiles, 500,000 (dead babies, mothers, fathers – collateral damage)
dead since 2003. (Mission Accomplished)
4450 American soldiers DEAD since September 11, 2001.
100,000 American military personnel maimed and disabled?
How many now have to fight the government for benefits?
I see them asking for handouts in front of Winn-Dixie.
How about Americans who can’t pay for medical care, losing their homes, & their
jobs being exported to China. How do they feed a baby? Live in the woods picking berries?
Something to ponder and be angry about, Oh holy ones.
Yeah, I’ll give you something to blather about!
What total bull**it. Give me a break. Anything so they can meddle with American politics.
There’s a lot more wrong today than just abortion.
what the 2345 does all this have to do with the fact that obamy and his hecklers are going against the constitution of USA. This will play out in court and he will have to recind this order. Then This time next year we will finally have gotten the wretched taste of his feces out of our mouths.
Reading some of the comments above unmasks a plethora of bigotry and bias against Catholics and their basic beliefs in the area populace. That’s always been a problem in the USA (Look up the vitriol unleashed by the failed campaign of Al Smith in 1928 purely based on his religion), but you’d think after all these years it has diminished somewhat. What they also demonstrate is a total lack of understanding of what this attempt by a government bureaucrat to impose conditions upon religious organizations and their members by fiat means in the context of the first amendment. This is pathetic. If they believe it is “Kosher” to require organizations to furnish coverages for things antithetical to their basic beliefs, they fail to realize that they are tolerating a slippery slope to where we can end up like Merry Old England, where preachers are being prosecuted for the contents of their sermons for violating “hate speech” laws.
I suggest they subordinate their anti Catholic feelings, and examine what the real meaning is of this attempt by Obama’s minions to impose their will on religious beliefs in our country.
Supreme Court is Obama’s bag, or he wouldn’t bring the issue to a head. If one judge falls incapacitated between now and then, these decisions cannot be reversed. And I PREDICT a conservative judge will not be able to participate in either the Obamacare Constitutionality case, or the Catholic religious conscious exemption case. You heard it here!! The Bishops would do better to rally the troops rather than think the Supreme Court will save them, not a chance.
If the Catholic Church honestly believes their “followers” do not use any form of birth control, they are fooling themselves. All you have to do is look at the number of children they’re having these days. This is a religion that is out of touch with people. You can preach all you want about birth control, but your followers DON”T follow it! Just like the whole deal with divorces. The Catholic Church wants to pretend they don’t happen. Well they do. So how about acknowledging your followers do have sex outside of marriage, they do get divorced and remarry, and they most certainly use birth control. I lived in Philadelphia with nothing but Catholics for far too long. They do NOT practice what they preach, by any stretch of the imagination. They don’t go to confession, but they surely line up for that holy communion!
The Catholic Church needs to stay out of the government. The Church does not speak for everyone. Thank God we have choice in this United States!
Do you understand the point of this article? It is the government trying to force the church to do something against their belief, abortion.
That Constitution, Bill of Rights works BOTH WAYS. Has nothing to do with what anybody is preaching and everything to do with the government trying to establish law for the church. Can’t do it.
I’m not even Catholic, but I don’t believe in abortion. You have choice, what you do with your body is up to you, but I’ll not be forced to pay for someone to have a baby killed. Pay for it yourself.
Layla, contraception is not abortion. It’s to prevent abortions.
Angela Smith, why are you so against the church? Why would you want a church to pay taxes as this is sometimes the only hope for those unfortunate, like myself, to get any help because the government has not “POKED” its nose it the right direction in helping those who are unemployed, poor, or etc…. All Obama has done is work on tearing us down where we will soon have no freedoms left what so ever. Where are the are the jobs! I sure can’t find any, and the abortions are still going on and on. Major money in all that. I don’t think the church is poking its nose in politics, but politics is sure poking its nose in the church. Obama needs to leave the church alone and stick to politics, or you will see a lot more problems coming down the road.
Standing ovation for Janet.
Anonymous, Of course, anything for a voter.
Good point, FlaglerLive. And neither is it healthcare. It is sold at the drugstore. No church should be involved in anything the government is attempting to “decree”.
Geezer Butler says
Don’t overlook Janet’s excellent post, second from the top.
John Boy says
Billions of dollars in real estate assets, another billion in legal fees and law suite settlements, pretty soon we’re talking real money. As a former Catholic, I can safely say that the Church is the most corrupt criminal organization in the history of the world.