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