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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. RJ Goble

    How about they shut up, period – they hide and support child rapists, won't weed them out and now are trying to dictate government legislative policies!! I say we go after all religious organizations tax exempt status! Lets end that, which no other country lets religious organizations have, by the way – how much of the national debt would be paid down if all church's had to pay corporate tax rates on all incoming revenues??

    February 8, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Hmat

      I'd bet they would stop their protests if the law would be coupled with them being allowed to bugger little children They disgust me.

      February 8, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  2. Reality

    $9: Price for a Month's Supply of Birth Control Pills at Target 3 Miles from Georgetown Law:

    CNSNews.com) – Although Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke testified to the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee last month that contraception can cost a law student $3,000 over three years and that some of her fellow students could not afford it, a Target store only 3 miles from the law school currently sells a month's supply of birth control pills for only $9 to people who do not have insurance plans covering contraceptives."

    Next topic:

    February 8, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Reality

      Oops, forgot to note the following for those new members of this blog:

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      From amazon.com:

      100 Okamoto Crown Condoms, World Famous Super Thin and Sensitive Condom, for Extra Sensation by Okamoto
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      February 8, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You're as boring as Chard. And less intelligent.

      February 8, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • Reality

      The reality of se-x, abortion, contraception and STD/HIV control: – from an agnostic guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-

      Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...

      The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

      : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill (8.7% actual failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% actual failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

      Added information before making your next move:

      from the CDC-2006

      "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

      And from:

      Consumer Reports, January, 2012

      "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

      Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

      "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

      Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

      The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":
      – (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
      – (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)
      Followed by:
      One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
      Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
      The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
      Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
      IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)

      Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

      February 9, 2013 at 7:35 am |
  3. derp

    The bishops are so angry that they might just violate a child.

    February 8, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
  4. Ray Ray

    I am a practicing Catholic but the church law is very Hypocritical I am very tired of it .I wish the media would ask how come the woman of the parish do not have ten kids each. My sister had 11 and practiced birth control How ridiculous they sound

    February 8, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Terry

      The whole Catholic new catachism thing that the Vatican has been trying to push isn't taking hold with the new generation. Former and potential young Catholics have moved on to greener pastures: other religions, or nones. Dying religion, views matter less and less. Just sleazy old bishops grasping at straws and trying to seem relevant. Fail.

      February 8, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • junior

      If you practiced your faith you would be supporting the bishops.

      February 8, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If your mother had any taste, you wouldn't exist, junie.

      February 8, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
  5. Ed

    They really should keep their Say out of OUR Government .They should care more on the Abuse of Children by Priests than to inject their ancient ideas in MY business.....Unwanted children end up as criminals and Welfare recipients .

    February 8, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
  6. Domine

    KMFDM better than the best. I have no pity for the religious majority. I sincerely hope my grandchildren see a secular world where religion is only found in the jungles of Africa. The Christian religion.

    February 8, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Ed

      I am 100 % behind a secular world .Religion only divides and teaches differences . Reality and humanism teaches us compassion

      February 8, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  7. John the Historian

    No one is forcing anyone to use birth control but if the Catholic Church wants to stick to its all dogma about birth control being evil that is their problem. Everyone deserves health insurance and everyone has the right to choose whether they use it. The Catholic Church needs to call Vatican III and get into the 21st century.

    February 8, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Why it is OK to force everyone to pay up front for the coverage, though? It's an avoidable cost that WILL be passed on to ratepayers. It's $20 a month that my wife and I don't need to spend because we can replace the function for free. It seems more significant that people will be forced to pay a premium for a service that they don't use than to pay out of pocket for one they do use.

      February 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Ed

      If they want a Sday in our government ,Make them pay taxes on all wages ,property and no more Tax free status ...They also need accountability and transparency .....Like that will ever happen

      February 8, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • Ed

      If they want a Say in our government ,Make them pay taxes on all wages ,property and no more Tax free status ...They also need accountability and transparency .....Like that will ever happen

      February 8, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      JFCanton:

      It is actually a cost savings to include contraception. They are saving money by avoiding pregnancy, pre-natal care, ... and all of the other costs associated with NOT using birth control. The policy is actually cheaper with the coverage than without it. If you would like to pay more to get less ... that is YOUR choice.

      February 8, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
  8. asm_ith

    If religious-affiliated organizations oppose contraception so much, they can easily satisfy their objection. If they really believe it so strongly, they should make it a condition of employment that the people who work for them cannot use contraception; just as they are arguing against providing contraception, they should argue just as strongly that they have the religious freedom to only employ people who do not go against the organization's religious beliefs. Of course, they won't do this because they would never have enough people working for them since most want to use contraception. Their religious beliefs are deep-felt, as long as it doesn't cost them any money such as by providing insurance coverage for contraception.

    February 8, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  9. ron

    In Thursday’s announcement, Dolan also said the change in policy showed a “disregard of the conscience rights of for-profit business owners.”
    What do these bishops want? Apparently they want any business to be able to deny coverage based on their conscience. Do they realize that Jehova's Witness business owners could deny their employees coverage for blood transfusions? In fact if you follow their reasoning any business or corporation (now that corporations are "people") could deny their employees any kind of health insurance based on a claimed religious belief or belief based on conscience. It seems to me that the Obama Administration has gone the umpteenth mile to satisfy these bishops who are totally paranoid about their religious rights.

    February 8, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      It is the new fall back position of the religious. If they are stopped from smacking others in the head with their cross the claim THEIR rights are somehow violated. All because public policy does not bow to their dogma.

      February 8, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • JFCanton

      The scenario of minority religions picking and choosing coverage offered is mostly a theoretical concern. Would an insurance company write coverage for a JW-owned business excluding blood transfusions? Probably not. There's too much liability for them, probably, and too little demand for the tailored policy.

      February 8, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • End Religion

      @JFC: "The scenario of minority religions picking and choosing coverage offered is mostly a theoretical concern."

      You're not using your critical thinking skills. The difference between good law and bad law is thinking through the theoretical to understand how the law will be abused *before* it is written.

      ***
      "Would an insurance company write coverage for a JW-owned business excluding blood transfusions?"

      It might if it is a JW-owned insurance company, or for many other reason that don't reside under your "probably not" assertion.

      February 8, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  10. irene

    When the Catholic Church starts paying taxes for the services they receive, they can have a voice about religious feeedom. Until then, we are paying for their idiotic dogma and they can follow our rules. Churches should not be tax exempt, they are big businesses that suck up public services at taxpayers expense and they are the biggest freeloading whiners and complainers receiving corporate welfare. Btw. Those bishop outfits are so gay...

    February 8, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • End Religion

      Start taxing the churches and add a "hot beef injection tax" so each time they abuse an altar boy, as they will continue to do, they send a sizable sum to the government and family.

      February 8, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • junior

      The church does pay taxes. I wonder if you can figure that one out.

      February 8, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
  11. Wrathbrow

    Have you ever seen a group of men more in need of getting laid?

    February 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Which God?

      Careful there, Wrath. A lot of little boys would be mad at you for suggesting this.

      February 8, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  12. Over 40,000 denominations of insanity

    Has anything improved with Christianity since 200+ years ago?
    =================================================

    Thomas Jefferson, POTUS #3:

    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:

    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:

    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 8, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Turkish?

      Hence it isn't established "legally." Power is the problem; you just plug in some organization other than religion into unchecked power and get the same results. Most likely without the benefits of charity and personal fulfillment for believers, if we consider the toilet-worthy performance of secular societies.

      February 8, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • ryan

      @JFCanton

      "secular societies"? Certainly you are not trying to draw a comparison between failed non-democratic totalitarianism and anything else.

      February 8, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  13. mjd

    Interesting. The RCC will pay for VIAGRA ( a prescription) but it doesn't want to pay for BIRTH CONTROL PILLS (a prescription). What's next? Pain medication? Cancer medication?

    February 8, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • JFCanton

      The decision to pay for Viagra doesn't have any potential ethical consequences. Except "moral hazard." You broke it, you buy it, I say... and so should the government insurance standards board.

      February 8, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • ellid

      It is perfectly possible to exist without using erectile dysfunction drugs, but a lot of women need hormonal birth control for medical conditions like PCOS, endometriosis, and so on. Not even close to the same.

      February 8, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Uses that should be permitted, at least according to most Catholic organizations' written policies. If they don't follow their written policies that's a different problem.

      February 8, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Uses that should be permitted, at least according to most Catholic organizations' written policies.

      February 8, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  14. olepi

    We should give the "Church" a break, they are kinda slow. It took them 400 years to admit the Earth revolves around the Sun. It may take this some time too ....

    Meanwhile, a bunch of old celibate white guys, dressed in clown outfits, and guilty of systemic child predation, are trying to control the rest of us.

    February 8, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • JFCanton

      It's not the priests driving this. It's dogma-not messing with a natural process that doesn't really need to be messed with, not if we are to take people as being responsible for themselves. Birth control is not the "highest and best" solution to the problem and therefore the "Church," in attempting to embody an ideal, has no reason to endorse it.

      It's embarrassingly easy to not get pregnant. Maybe not always 100% convenient, especially if one is impatient or needs to have a scheduled life. But the rest of life isn't convenient. Why should we pay special attention to make this one aspect of life convenient?

      If you thought about it, it might occur to you that whiteness is only a characteristic of priests in a predominantly white country?

      February 8, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • ellid

      The above response would make sense if hormonal birth control weren't part of the treatment for a host of conditions that have nothing to do with preventing pregnancy, like endometriosis, PCOS, cystic acne, and plenty of other nasty, potentially crippling and/or life/fertility threatening conditions.

      Sorry.

      February 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Jen

      It's embarrassingly easy not to get fat. Why do we make it easy for fat people to get diabetes, blood pressure, etc medication by making sure it is covered by medical insurance?

      February 8, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  15. Terry

    The whole Catholic new catachism thing that the Vatican has been trying to push isn't taking hold with the new generation. Former and potential young Catholics have moved on to greener pastures: other religions, or nones. Dying religion, views matter less and less. Just sleazy old bishops grasping at straws and trying to seem relevant.

    February 8, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  16. Terry

    The whole Catholic new catachism thing that the Vatican has been trying to push isn't taking hold with the new generation. Former and potential young Catholics have moved on to greener pastures: other religions, or nones. Dying religion, views matter less and less. Just sleasy old bishops grasping at straws and trying to seem relevant.

    February 8, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  17. kieth

    Seems pretty ironic that the biggest richest pedophile organization on the planet is busy dictating that the rest of us cannot use birth control to avoid disease and unwanted births... think about it

    February 8, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  18. JFCanton

    Why is it the actuarial conclusion that paying for birth control is a money-saver? Before the availability of effective birth control people self-regulated their number of children-to various degrees of success, but regulated all the same. Let's guess that birth control enables the average couple with kids to have 1.5 kids instead of 3. That's a big difference in costs initially. But in the long run, that same birth control means only 1.5 future adults working and saving and demanding services-or paying into health insurance pools.

    February 8, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @JFCanton
      Birth control is far more important than it used to be becuase the infant mortality rate has DRASTICALLY declined in the last 100 years.
      Between 1915 and 1997, there was a dramatic >90% overall decline in mortality in the 1st year of life.

      February 8, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Maybe it matters some, but historically a decline in infant mortality is also associated -itself- with a decline in total births.

      February 8, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • charlie4darwin

      OFF TOPIC

      February 8, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • ellid

      "Self-regulation" before the 20th century meant that the woman would get pregnant every year or two until she died in childbirth. FAIL.

      February 8, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • JFCanton

      For the poor, yes, that was common. But the birthrate decreases with prosperity, because there are more disadvantages than advantages to pumping out more children once you have acquired something to lose, or once you are in densely populated living conditions. It's not like people before the 20th century were unaware of how to not make unwanted children!

      In my family tree, going back to the 1700s, there are pretty numerous instances before 1900 of 2 or 3 kids with a mother who lived to old age (and no deaths in childbirth, at least not in the direct line). I haven't calculated a median, but it would probably be 4 or 5. Coverage of deaths in infancy is spotty, but judging by examples that were recorded it isn't going to be higher than a quarter. So let's say the median is 5. That's not the product of people who need pharmaceutical help with their self-control. And these were tenant farmers, by and large... exactly the sort of people one would expect to have loads of kids (and some did).

      February 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  19. Reality

    Curing the horror of abortion and STDs for 15 cents:

    From amazon.com:

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    February 8, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • JFCanton

      On the other hand, 15 cents a pop is a pretty serious counterargument against there being a government interest in spending 50-200 cents a day (roughly) on pills or other measures that don't address disease transmission. Free condoms would probably be the optimal solution economically...

      February 8, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • Floretta

      Condoms do nothing for dysmenorrhea, ovarian cysts and other MEDICAL conditions for which hormonal birth control is prescribed – and which millions of women use, including those with no need for birth control. And they are to be denied these treatments – which THEIR insurance premiums pay for – because the exact same pills can be used for contraception? Pretty cheesy of the church to be telling non-Catholics which medical treatments they can be insured for. I suspect very few members of the hierarchy have a medical degree.

      February 8, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • JFCanton

      Prescription of birth control is supposed to be permitted for abnormal health conditions. This is a people problem, not a policy one.

      February 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Reality

      As noted on p. 4:

      Condoms are available over the counter for less than 50 cents each and from Amazon for 15 cents each as noted above. Make the Pill (type dependent on doctor’s evaluation) available over the counter and there will be no more debate. Planned Parenthood can offer deep discounts for those who say they cannot afford said protection.

      Or better yet, put a pack of condoms and a box of Pills in cereal boxes. Unfortunately, that would not ensure the condoms and/or Pills would be used. Based on Guttmacher Insti-tute data, said condoms and/or Pills are currently not being used as they should. (one million abortions/yr and 19 million cases of S-TDs/yr because either the daily Pill was not taken or a condom stayed in the pocket.)

      Obviously a perfect contraceptive/STD barrier system does not exist. Time to develop one.

      In the meantime, mono-masturbation or mutual masturbation for heterose-xuals are highly recommended for those at risk. Abstinence is the another best-solution but obviously the se-x drive typically vitiates this option although being biological would it not be able to develop a drug to temporarily eliminate said drive?

      Maybe selling Pill-enriched sodas??? Hmmm?

      Condom-fitted briefs for men?? Hmmm?

      The door is open for other ideas!!!

      February 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  20. Archdiocese

    I think it would be justice to tell the laity what has been going on. As usual you are going down the line it is not up to the state to order such a policy. I agree they should not have that power. I also think all such records should be turned into the police before the shredder gets them.

    February 8, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • Archdiocese

      Wrong place again!!!

      February 8, 2013 at 11:30 am |
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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.