[Important Updates] Obama Admin Decides to Require Religious Institutions to Cover Free Contraception & Sterilization

Liberals are crowing about what they see as a huge victory for them — and they are right — because this victory comes at the expense of religious liberty.

Welcome to the Obama 2012 reelection plan: ignore and marginalize people of faith, pander to the far-left’s sexual-political priorities.

This via the far-left site ThinkProgress:

Today, in a huge victory for women’s health, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that most employers will be required to cover contraception in their health plans, along with other preventive services, with no cost-sharing such as co-pays or deductibles. This means that after years of trying to get birth control covered to the same extent that health plans cover Viagra, our country will finally have nearly universal coverage of contraception.

Opponents of contraception had lobbied hard for a broad exemption that would have allowed any religiously-affiliated employer to opt out of providing such coverage. Fortunately, the Obama administration rejected that push and decided to maintain the narrow religious exemption that it initially proposed. Only houses of worship and other religious nonprofits that primarily employ and serve people of the same faith will be exempt. Religiously-affiliated employers who do not qualify for the exemption and are not currently offering contraceptive coverage may apply for transitional relief for a one-year period to give them time to determine how to comply with the rule.

Liberals always complain when the Church acts in the public square, tossing out the red herring “separation of church and state!”

But they are perfectly happy to have the state compel the church to do what they want the church (and people of faith) to do.

More from me soon, but there you have it.

UPDATE: Michael Sean Winters, who I have deeply disagreed with in the past, posts his reaction to the news — calling it much more than a disaster:

One sentence in the statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stands out: “The administration remains fully committed to its partnerships with faith-based organizations, which promote healthy communities and serve the common good.”

What can those words “fully committed” possibly mean? They have punched Sr. Carol Keehan and Fr. Jenkins and many other Catholics who have taken shots for this Administration in the nose. They have jumped over the First Amendment to coerce religious organizations to do something we find morally objectionable. They have given people who loved the Affordable Care Act reason for pause, great pause. They have given the Republicans a huge battering ram with which to beat swing voting Catholics over the head.

I say “they,” but the full responsibility for this decision rests with the President. NCR has learned that the President called Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, this morning to tell him the news. Wouldn’t you have liked to be on an extension to listen in on that conversation. The president looked Dolan in the eye in November and said he would be pleased with his decision. I am guessing that Dolan is not pleased. He is not alone.

Winters is right that this decision is a huge blow to liberal Catholics who have tried to cover for Obama. But Winters is wrong that the President’s decision comes as any sort of surprise. Of course Obama would throw his liberal Catholics supporters under the bus to please his leftist secular supporters. Obama’s wedding with liberal Catholics has always been one of convenience and he just filed the divorce papers. I therefore find it hard to sympathize with liberal Catholics who are shocked by this decision, because I’ve been warning for years that their relationship with Obama was bound to end in heartbreak.

I do, however, respect Winters for being right to stand up for religious liberty and criticize a President he supported as a candidate. For that I applaud him and I hope that more liberal Catholics acknowledge how foolish they have been to support Obama’s anti-Catholic policies. I urge them to join me and other Catholics in common cause to begin to address this deplorable state of affairs.

UPDATE 2: Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, in a video posted (on the right side) of the USCCB website, calls on Catholics to contact the Administration and demand they rescind this anti-religious liberty, anti-first amendment mandate. Read the full press release just sent out by the USCCB here.

UPDATE 3: Grace-Marie Turner writes at NRO’s The Corner blog:

This is another assault on the Constitution and the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) called the federal regulation an “unprecedented threat to individual and institutional religious freedom.”

The Obamacare regulation gives faith-based institutions, like Catholic universities and hospitals, the choice of violating the fundamental tenets of their faith by covering the federally mandated coverage in their employee health plans, or of dropping health insurance for their employees — in which case they would be fined for violating the employer mandate.

…As I told Kathryn Lopez for a recent article, there is a war on religion from the Left, and it is very dangerous to the institutions that make our civil society function.

The Catholic Church historically has been a vital part of the safety net — providing aid for the poor, care for the sick, shelter and food for the homeless, and care for mothers in need, as a few examples.

The health-care law threatens to tear gaping holes in that safety net by forcing Catholic health plans to cover contraception, by denying funds to Catholic adoption agencies, and ultimately by forcing taxpayers — including Catholics — to fund abortion.

This is dangerous to the very fabric of our society. It’s a crucial reason why the whole health law, with its centralized control over health-care decisions, must not stand.




    Most Catholics reject Humanae Vitae – so why all the hysteria?

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  • Bean

    Something like this can actually be good, especially for people like me who happen to take BC for reasons other then preventing conception. There are medical problems – such as PCOS – where I can become extremely sick without BC pills. Sometimes medication can serve duel purposes and it is not fair to restrict potentional LIFE SAVING benefits for hard working employees.

    • Bruce

      Yes, BCs can be used for non-contraceptive purposes, but, really, no one has ever needed birth control pills to save their life. If there are such cases, I would really like to see the evidence. Also, while many doctors prescribe BCs for irregular menstrual cycles, such things can also be treated other ways, such as with metformin or lifestyle changes. BCs should be a last resort in this case.

  • Stella in Ohio

    So what is the official status of Kathleen Sebelius in The Church? I know that KC Archbishop Joseph Naumann bishop had scolded her soundly and ordered her to not present herself for communion and Archbishop Wuerl has supported that in DC with agreement from Cardinal Burke. But that doesn’t amount to a formal excommunication does it? Seems to me it is about time.

  • rich

    Best thing that could have happened. Persecution ALWAYS separates the sheep from the goats. I am curious how Catholics and other Christians will vote in November. I am also curious to see how our Bishops will direct the faithful in voting. Very exciting news. But, with great potential for disaster for the Church in America.

  • Philip

    I cannot believe the lack of education and decency in this forum. This issue is bigger than whether or not you believe in contraception. This is about the moral decency of offering options to all women, regardless of their race, religion, etc. It today’s day and age, contraception is not only used for birth control; it is also used for health and safety reasons. Modern oral contraceptives offer protection against acne, bone thinning, breast growths, endometrial and ovarian cancers, infection, iron deficiency, cysts, premenstrual symptoms, among many other medical issues. This option needs to be offered because all women should be able to access this safely and freely. For those of you saying it is an outrage to employers, I offer you this. If an employer is racist, does that mean he/she is allowed to only hire employees of his/her race? No! How is this any different? It is not. Wake up and and educate yourselves!

    • Whitney

      Philip, the life of an innocent unborn child outweighs the *convenience* of its mother every time. And more often than not, the mother is a sin-ridden person who is having the child because of a sinful condition. The poor innocent child should not suffer because its mother could not lead a moral life.

    • Peter Nyikos

      I agree that there are some conditions that require hormone treatment, but to call that “contraception” is to muddy the issues. And you are ignoring many of the adverse side effects of being “on the pill” for years on end. Here is a list of some conditions for which such women are at risk:
      weight gain;
      blood clots;
      breast cancer…If you don’t believe the last one, look up the American Cancer Society’s own statement that hormonal treatment of symptoms of menopause leads to higher risk of breast cance.

      • Eric

        Educate yourself, Peter: http://humupd.oxfordjournals.org/content/16/6/631

        RESULTS Data about breast cancer risk indicate a slightly increased risk among current users of oral contraceptives (OC), an effect which disappears 5–10 years after stopping. Combined OC have a significant protective effect on the risk of ovarian cancer, and the protection increases with duration of use (relative risk decreased by 20% for each 5 years of use).
        CONCLUSIONS Women wishing to use combined OC can be reassured that their decision is unlikely to place them at higher risk of developing cancer.

        There are some negative side effects, but there are also additional positive side effects. COCP reduces the risk of ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome, anemia, and a number of other conditions. And of course, it also greatly reduces the risk of pregnancy, which has a laundry list of health risks for a woman.

        My wife has been taking COCP for her acne for years, and she will continue to. We are both strong Catholics, but this BS about contraceptives being evil is outdated dogma. I have strong enough faith in my God that he will judge us on entering Heaven based on whether or not we try to be good people, not on how we politically stand on birth control.



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