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Catholic Bishops not satisfied with Obama’s contraception compromise
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Thursday rejected the Obama administration’s revised mandates on contraception.
February 7th, 2013
03:34 PM ET

Catholic Bishops not satisfied with Obama’s contraception compromise

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops does not support the Obama administration’s revised proposal for providing insurance coverage for contraception, saying it falls short of addressing concerns about religious freedom.

In a response to the policy update announced last week by the Department of Health and Human Services, the church leaders said the policy offers “second-class status to our first-class institutions in Catholic health care, Catholic education and Catholic charities.”

“Because the stakes are so high, we will not cease from our effort to assure that healthcare for all does not mean freedom for few,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the conference, said in a statement. “We will continue to stand united with brother bishops, religious institutions, and individual citizens who seek redress in the courts for as long as this is necessary.”

Although the bishops identified the changes as a step in the right direction, they made it clear that they were not satisfied.

The proposed guidelines would allow religious-affiliated organizations opposing contraception to opt out of a federal mandate requiring that they provide their employees with insurance coverage for birth control.

The policy would give women at non-profit, religious-based organizations, like certain hospitals and universities, the ability to receive contraception through separate health policies at no charge.

CNN Belief: Obama proposal would let religious groups opt-out of contraception mandate

Following an uproar among religious institutions that didn't want to pay for contraceptives, the administration in March offered several compromise alternatives. The plan unveiled on Friday was a result of that effort.

The proposed update continued the administration's attempts to resolve the contentious issue of how non-profit organizations can decline to provide contraception coverage to their employees on religious grounds without facing a penalty.

An original mandate on providing contraception was part of the new federal healthcare law spearheaded by Obama, the Affordable Care Act. It required that insurers provide, at no cost to those insured, all forms of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

A number of high profile lawsuits have been filed against the federal government on the issue, including from the craft store giant Hobby Lobby.

CNN Belief: Hobby Lobby faces millions in fines for bucking Obamacare

A group of 43 Catholic organizations challenged the rules in federal court in May.

In Thursday’s announcement, Dolan also said the change in policy showed a “disregard of the conscience rights of for-profit business owners.”

As part of the new initiative, groups that are insured - such as student health plans at religious colleges - would be required to let their insurer know that certain participants would like contraception coverage.

“The insurer would then notify enrollees that it is providing them with no-cost contraceptive coverage through separate individual health insurance policies,” the HHS statement on the policy said.

Although the agency has not estimated final costs of the plan, it said that offering free coverage would actually lower expenses over the long term, partly due to improvement in women's health and fewer childbirths.

CNN Belief: Catholic groups sue over federal contraception mandate

Because the insurer would be covering the costs, the administration hoped the changes would allow religious organizations morally opposed to contraception to avoid paying for it.

The updated rules proposal will be open for public comment through April 8. The administration would then decide whether to make it final.

The Catholic Bishops indicated in their statement that they look forward to working with the administration on the final policy.

“We welcome and will take seriously the administration’s invitation to submit our concerns through formal comments, and we will do so in the hope that an acceptable solution can be found that respects the consciences of all,” Dolan said.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Health care • Politics

soundoff (482 Responses)
  1. Smeagel4T

    Need the Catholic Nuns to now come out with their wooden rules and smack the bishops on the knuckles. 🙂

    February 7, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
  2. Christine

    Why was Jeremiah a bull frog?

    February 7, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • Jokers ot the left of me, clowns to the right

      I asked him, but I never understood a single word he said.

      February 7, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
  3. Austin

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tELc7wwJcsA&w=640&h=360]

    February 7, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
  4. Ferathka

    Maybe the Catholics should worry about getting their cult in order and stop assaulting young boys first. Religion is a joke and it is probed by this "church"

    February 7, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
  5. MK

    As long as their Religous Freedom includes abusing and assulting defensless children, then it's all ok...

    February 7, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
  6. MK

    Religous Freedom???? You mean the freedom to abuse and assult defensless boys and girls for your selfish pleasure without any kind of penalty or impact?? Yea, those are the people I'm going to reply on to make great moral decision... NOT!

    February 7, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • Ferathka

      I say start taxing all churches. Time to end this tax exempt bs.

      February 7, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
  7. LCSWquilter

    Look at the photo that accompanies this article: a group of old men wearing black dresses with pink embellisments, bling and beanies paid for my pennies donated to them by poor and struggling families who think this is what they must do to aspire to eternal life. As a proud marginalized Catholic who left my Catholic practice behind, but not the faith, there is nothing these men could tell me about my female body that has produced children they'll never have. I will never hand over my conscience to them.

    February 7, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • Wrathbrow

      Look closely at that photo everyone. Fancy garb worn by true oppression and evil.

      February 7, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
  8. CM46

    American Catholic women use birth control at the same rate as "non catholic" women regardless of what the bishops say. . The bishops ought to get out of politics and clean up their own house. I am a practicing catholic and I beleive that the Bishops ought to stay out of the bedroom.

    February 7, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
  9. Mohammad A Dar

    their statement is religious freedom or religious bullying?

    February 7, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
  10. Marcus

    Not a day goes by that I regret my choice to leave Catholicism. Catholic bishops have no interest in anything other than personal power. And the Church is stuck somewhere in the 16th century. Slowly but surely, they are becoming a relic of history as they choose to remain stubbornly blind to the world that they live in, and refuse to realize that that they have lost on the social issues. Women can have abortions. Couples can choose to reproduce or not. And the gays are going to marry. Game over. Enjoy irrelevancy!

    February 7, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      well said, Marcus.

      February 7, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • Ferathka

      Amen. I was once a Catholic too. Then I grew up.

      February 7, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
    • Bet

      Another ex-RC here. Agree with everything you said.

      February 7, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
  11. Bootyfunk

    men who have never had a s.exual relationship giving advice about getting pregnant. it's like going to someone who's Amish to get your car fixed. these lunatics don't know the touch of a woman, but tell women how to live? shameless misogyny. bunch of arrogant dullards living in the dark ages.

    February 7, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
  12. Sandra

    Religion should not come between a woman's health choices and her doctor. It's just that simple, but in the Vatican's eyes women are nothing more than Catholic Baby factories.

    February 7, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      nail on the head, sadly.
      the bible says all non-virgin women should be put to death. there are numerous examples of women being treated like 3rd class citizens in the bible. the book says women should be silent and submit to their husbands in all things.
      can't we do better than christianity?

      February 7, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
  13. Over 30,000 denominations of insanity

    Thomas Jefferson (POTUS #3, principle author of the Declaration of Independence)

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    John Adams (POTUS #2, Patriot of the American Revolution)

    I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

    James Madison (POTUS #4, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & the Bill of Rights)

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    Thomas Paine (Patriot of the American Revolution)

    I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church. All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

    February 7, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • Christine

      And your point is?

      February 7, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
  14. "I Believe in the word of God"

    Let's take a look in these Catholic Bishops closets, there, the ghost of the Pharisees, will be revealed.

    February 7, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
  15. "I Believe in the word of God"

    Give Caesar what belong to Caesar. Period!

    February 7, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • Jean Sartre

      Everything belongs to Ceasar!

      February 7, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
  16. Doc1

    F the Catholic bishops. Bunch of old white male pedophiles.

    February 7, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • maryte

      certainly, besides, what on earth old, white and bitter repressed men have to do with female contraception, why they thing they have authority over females bodies... I gues is that since they canno have them, at least they can exercise power over them....

      February 7, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Wrathbrow

      F' em with someone with an STD, and whisper in their ear: sorry I don't have any protection per your instructions.

      February 7, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
  17. Sharon

    Years ago, I worked in the corporate offices of the health care division of a liberal order of nuns. We did not have 'birth control' pills, we had hormonal therapy treatments. The hospitals did not perform abortions but did plenty of d and cs. The Catholic church has taken the money of their American members and then basically thumbed their nose at them. Anyone can look at South America and see how the Catholic hierarchy wants to rule. Your religion should not restrict my religion unless I believe in murder and mayhem. The US has no state religion and it will stay that way.

    February 7, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • Bet

      Interesting. Where there's a will, there's a way. The RCC always finds it, even if it means renaming the "sinful behavior" to make it fit the dogma.

      Thanks for posting.

      February 7, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
  18. sam

    It's called 'not always getting your way'. It's part of living in a large, diverse society. One day I hope we get over this kind of nonsense.

    February 7, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
  19. End Religion

    More holier than thou Christians:
    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/applebees-waitress-fired-pastor-receipt-193820748.html
    Pastor with party of 8 or more refuses auto-tip and leaves NO tip since she already "gives God 10%"

    February 7, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • Akira

      They carried this story on Eatocracy, also.
      Self-righteous hypocrite!

      February 7, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Waiting for the believers here to jump in and defend. . .

      February 7, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Bet

      Sadly, this happens all the time. These religious types come in after their services, order coffees and one dessert with eight forks, and then spend the next three hours taking up space while they kiss the pastor's ass. Meanwhile, the server has to run back and forth refilling coffee cups and water glasses, chasing after their kids, cleaning up their messes, and then gets stiffed out of a lousy $6 tip. I mean, come on! You spent less than $5 a person. That's an additional $.80 a person for someone who's just served your fat asses everything you demanded. So much for those loving xtian attitudes.

      Applebee's is a crapfest anyway, and I'm sure the server has had multiple, better job offers. Good for her for outing this horrible excuse for a human being, much less a pastor.

      February 7, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
  20. Susan StoHelit

    They are second class. They treat women as second class, so why would I consider their hospitals as first class.

    They'd rather let me bleed out, risk my life, than give me a tubal that I have a medical need for. They'd give me a less effective procedure, risk my life, for their religious principles. To call them second class would be generous.

    And so long as they wish to be a public employer, they should have to follow the same rules as the rest of employers. Otherwise we'll next have a vegan saying his employees health insurance can't have any medicines that were developed via animal testing.

    February 7, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • Akira

      If they are running a for-profit operation, they need to adhere to the same regulations every other business has to follow.

      February 7, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • maryte

      Catolicism is the most criminal religion of all, the Inquisition, the Cruzades, the mass murder of the indigenous people and the anihilation of their cultures in the Americas in the name of the love of Jesus, when actually it was the pure pursue of richess.... what an hipocritic mass of abusers.....now they are afraid women will have less kids, so they will not have enough "altar boys and girls", if you know what I mean.....

      February 7, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.