Bishops reject Obama contraception compromise
Catholic Bishops called the HHS contraception mandate 'dubios' in a new statement.
March 14th, 2012
10:49 PM ET

Bishops reject Obama contraception compromise

By Kevin Liptak, CNN

(CNN) – An adjustment to a controversial federal rule requiring employers cover contraception in their health insurance plans was labeled “dubious” by Roman Catholic bishops on Wednesday.

The rule in question mandated all employers, including religiously affiliated organizations like hospitals and colleges, provide free contraception to employees through health insurance plans. Churches were exempted from the law.

After uproar from conservatives and religious groups, President Barack Obama announced an accommodation to the rule. Under the new plan, insurers will be required to offer complete coverage free to women instead of the religious institutions themselves.

On Wednesday the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said the new rule remained “unspecified and dubious,” and said they would seek to engage in conversations with members of Obama’s administration to seek a more attractive alternative.

"We will continue to accept any invitation to dialogue with the executive branch to protect the religious freedom that is rightly ours,” the bishops said. “We will continue to pursue legislation to restore the same level of religious freedom we have enjoyed until just recently. And we will continue to explore our options for relief from the courts, under the U.S. Constitution and other federal laws that protect religious freedom.”

The group also attempted to push back on criticism from liberals that their opposition to the contraception rule was akin to restricting access to forms of birth control.

“This is not about access to contraception, which is ubiquitous and inexpensive, even when it is not provided by the church’s hand and with the church’s funds,” the group wrote.

The statement continued, “Indeed, this is not about the church wanting to force anybody to do anything; it is instead about the federal government forcing the church — consisting of its faithful and all but a few of its institutions — to act against church teachings.”
Responding to the bishops, Catholic League President Bill Donohue said the statement “leaves nothing on the table.”

“It debunks many myths about this issue: it is not about contraception; it is not just about Catholic religious rights; it is not about the Catholic Church trying to impose its will on others,” Donohue wrote. “It is about the federal government trying to impose its agenda on us.”

Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest at Georgetown University, said the bishops’ statement used “strong and uncompromising” language while not becoming inflammatory.

“The statement’s reference to the administration’s adaptation as ‘unspecified and dubious’ highlights the bishops’ distrust of the White House and HHS,” Reese said. “The bishops do not believe the administration’s promises to fix the problem for faith-based organizations and self-insured plans.”

Reese pointed out a flaw in the bishops’ argument that employers who feel their conscience was violated by providing contraception coverage should be exempted from the law.

“The statement infers that religious liberty is an absolute right that cannot be restricted,” Reese said. “If this were true, Mormons and Muslims could practice polygamy and those who believe God demands the separation of the races should be exempted from civil rights legislation.”

-CNN’s Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Church and state • Politics

soundoff (222 Responses)
  1. William Demuth

    Isn't government provided BASIC health care the solution?

    Physicals, shots, basic meds, pre-natal, vision and similar needs that serve the greater good?

    I doubt we can give everyone every thing, but I do think we could give everyone a foundation in a cost effective way.

    When kids don't learn to read because they can't see, or previously conquered disease begins to rise again because of failed immunization programs, we will all ultimately pay the price anyhow.

    March 15, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  2. Brad

    If this country were to adopt a proper comprehensive national health care plan, then the opinions of these strange celibate men would be of no consequence. But we have to work with what we have. We should not bargain with these men. Let them posture and reveal exactly what they are about: restricting the rights of everyone they can influence through coercion with a message of fear. Few people will follow them when their motives are plain for everyone to see.

    March 15, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • SPA Knight

      It is exactly this kind of mindset why this issue is about freedom. The same people who want choice want to deny it for others.

      March 15, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  3. JohnQuest

    Medically necessary or not is besides the point, it is between the woman, her doctor, and the insurance company. The Church should have nothing to do with it unless they are ask to pay for it, in this case they are not, in of argument.

    If the Church don't want "their" women to use it, they can pass an internal rule to ban the use. Oh, they did and was almost universally ignored, who can they blame for this, certainly not the Government or the insurance company.

    I have not heard any of these Bishops address the fact that Most of "their" women use some form of contraceptive.

    March 15, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • FLIndependent

      That's right John, since the majority of Catholic women use birth control, doesn't that make them sinners in the eyes of the Churc? So, I have to wonder why these Bishops want to keep holding onto their medieval "beliefs" when they know the majority of their followers don't. This is all about power and money for the Church as they have changed many "beliefs" and "rituals" just in my lifetime, so this can be changed also. They need to come into the 21st Century as does our country!

      March 15, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  4. momoya

    How incredibly fvcking arrogant!!. Just who does this church think it is?. Absolutely disgusting for the church to take such a stance!

    March 15, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Sue

      Indeed. As for 'rejecting', time for those who haven't already done so to reject the bishops and their crazy religious myth that takes money for nothing, never delivers what it promises, and pays for their fancy dresses and lazy lifestyle.

      March 15, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  5. Free Man

    FEDERAL "MANDATES" are great !!! There is crime in America... It can have a negative effect on your health. So... Every person over 18 MUST purchase a handgun and MUST carry it on there person at ALL times. Ammo MUST be purchased at the GEORGE W. BUSH GUNS & AMMO store in Midland Texas

    March 15, 2012 at 9:06 am |
  6. Dantealexander

    Birth control is a medical necessity for some women — not a gym membership. You can’t afford to join the gym in the U.S.? You put on your Nikes and you go for a run. You can’t afford the birth control pill? You have no other options if you are taking it for health reasons.

    March 15, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • SPA Knight

      Your argument is weak because birth control is more affordable than a gym membership. Keeping your pants on is very cheap.

      March 15, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • A. Goodwin

      SPA – Before I had health insurance I used to pay $125 out of pocket every month – at the time I made a little over $7/hr and rented my own apartment. Do you think that's affordable? Not every pill comes in generic form. Now, insurance companies can work with pill producers to get the cost down. Want to know what the cost is PER YEAR for one female to get contraceptives with insurance: About $1.48. That's right. Your side is complaining SO much about the cost...when its less than $1.50 per YEAR for a women. How much money do you think insurance companies shell out for babies? For prental care or well-care checkups. I'm sure its more than $1.48 per YEAR.

      March 15, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • SPA Knight

      A. Goodwin – I am not coplaining about the cost of contraception. My position is birth control is not medical care but importantly, it's not up to government to mandate that an employer provide benefits to an employee especially if the employer is a religious organization and they have a moral objection. I can assure you that your insurance costs after this mandate will continue to rise and the quality of your care will deminish. Does the government manage anything effectively? Moreover, just skip over the border to Canada where my granfather lived is another Universal Healthcare model and its a disaster. When my grandfather came down with a skin infection and it took him 6 months to get a doctor's appointment. By the time they saw him his condition had nearly killed him when all he needed was antibiotics that he couldn't get without a prescription. But it cost him nothing except 6 months of suffering and a near death. I don't know anyone knocking on Canada's door to receive healthcare.

      March 15, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  7. Father O' Haran

    Good thing about being a priest or bishop, no need to worry about pesky contraceptives when all you do is molest little boys.

    March 15, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  8. JohnQuest

    What are they upset about, they do not have to provide or pay for anything.

    March 15, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  9. hippypoet

    "seek a more attractive alternative."

    yup, now that sounds priestly!

    March 15, 2012 at 8:51 am |

    Take your win & go home. To play this out is just hilarious. Obama 2012!!!

    March 15, 2012 at 8:51 am |
  11. squeekbo

    Let's face it, these old men don't want anyone to have contraception.

    They only increase their irrelevance.

    March 15, 2012 at 8:47 am |
  12. MollyBee

    Time for women to start speaking freely about the infamous "Bishops" and FOX NOT News, who keeps hammering on women and the President on this issue. What a group of hypocritric fools. Bishops, you were much less concerned for decades, decades and decades when yourselves were abusing little boys and girls. FOX, we're sick of your disrespectful hammering on women, the middle class, the poor and every other minority in the country. Here's a personal message to the "Bishops" and FOX: millions and millions of men use viagra, cialis, etc. etc. etc and get reimbursed by insurance companies. Families have put up with erectile disfunction ads played over and over again during prime time (family time). Where is your outrage on this topic? Time for the Bishops and FOX to just shut their pie holes.

    March 15, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • Oakspar

      Ripping on priest for child abuse is like ripping on mothers for drowning babies. Are you a mother guilty of drowning babies? Some mothers have done it, and recieved sympathy for being depressed or pushed to such an act. Therefore, since you are a mother, you must secretly be a baby drowner being covered up by other baby drowning mothers and BDM sympathizers.

      March 15, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Oakspar, the issue was not the Priest, but the Church covering it up and allowing it to go on. If the Church had attempted to stop it or punish the bad apples it would not have been such a blemish on the Church.

      March 15, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • FLIndependent

      Oakspar, I believe you're really missing the point here. No one is claiming that ALL priests are child molesters but the Church did a great job of hiding the ones who they knew were and shuttling them from one church to another. They kept this horrible crime under wraps for decades so why are they making such a huge deal about women receiving contraception? They won't clean up their own house but, as usual, want to tell others how to live.

      March 15, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  13. W.G.

    I don´t know why Obama cares about what the catholic bishops want . They seem to
    have minimal control over how they´re parishoners vote . Catholic women like Obama
    and for what he stands for . Medical contraceptives are more than child prevention they´re
    used as tumor and cancer preventions as well . Of cours the Bishops wouldn´t know this type
    of information , because of the fact they can´t have real involvment with women

    March 15, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  14. Primewonk

    Again, stating it is "free" is a misnomer. The costs are in the premiums. You simply cannot be charged a co-pay or deductible. Just like you can't charge a co-pay or deductible for other wellness measures. Contraception is a wellness measure.

    If the Catholic church is so worried about their members getting birth contol, perhaps they should kick out the 98% of Catholics who use or have used contraception. The fact that they ignore this demonstrates the depths of their hypocrisy.

    March 15, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • JohnQuest

      I agree I don't think it's "free", the cost is already apart of the premium (without it the premiums will not go down).

      Most states already require this in all insurance coverage, seems the compromise gave the fanatics more religious freedom than the previously had, what's the issue now

      March 15, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • Primewonk

      John – the issue is that this time the proposal was put forth by Obama, a black democrat. These people did not erupt equal hate and seething when Mitt Romney wrote it into Romneycare in Massachussets. They did not vilify and scream "Off With His Head" when Mike Huckabee signed it into law in Arkansas.

      It's simply more obstructionist tactics from the religious right (oxymoron)

      March 15, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • FLIndependent

      @ Primewonk – You hit the nail on the head!

      March 15, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      Primework – so now it's about Obama's skin color? Lest you forget, the Catholic Church is universal across the globe and it's members are like a rainbow. The Catholic Church in Africa is primarily made up of dare I say...Africans many of which have dark skin. In terms of RomneyCare, I don't believe there was a mandate forcing Catholic organizations to provide and pay for contraceptions or abortions or there would have been a similar response.

      March 16, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • SPA Knight

      The Catholic Church is not in the business of kicking out it's members simply because they are living in sin. If that was the case, membership would be very low don't you think?

      March 16, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  15. Reality

    From a "guy who enjoys se-x" but s-ex never done in a state of stupidity.

    The reality of contraception and STD control:

    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% failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% 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.

    March 15, 2012 at 8:13 am |
  16. Rational Libertarian

    If the law is brought in, churches should not expect any special treatment or exemptions. However, I don't believe employers or insurance companies should have to provide contraception. Contraception is not a medical necessity, so people should not expect it to be covered in a run of the mill health insurance policies.

    March 15, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • I'm The Best!

      Sometimes it is a medical necessity. I can't think of any off the top of my head because I'm a guy. But I do know women who have taken them not to not get pregnant but to help with some medical needs.

      It should be covered.

      March 15, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • AGuest9

      It is, however, much cheaper than maternity care, labor & delivery, and well-child visits with innoculations.

      March 15, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Medically necessary or not it is still far less expensive than the alternative

      March 15, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    March 15, 2012 at 5:27 am |
    • Cy Bode

      Bishops , etc should spend more time and effort assuring the safety and well being of those who
      fall under the supervision of wayward priests , their stewardship over the last 30 years leaves
      much to be desired . The closing of churches and loss of credibility reflects the lack of confidence
      in Church leadership. ( Protect the Child )

      March 15, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • AGuest9

      "Credibility" and "church" in the same sentence? That's an oxymoron.

      March 15, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • WASP

      @prayer changes nothing: prayed lots of times for you to stop trolling, doesn't work. lmfao

      March 15, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things

      March 15, 2012 at 9:10 am |
  18. anne

    Obama is now atempting to make the big-bad-insurance companies the culprit of his mandate hoping this will villify him. This dude nauseates me and he is a master manipulator.

    March 15, 2012 at 5:01 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      What he is trying to do is ensure everyone is treated equally. Republitards would understand this if they got their damn heads out of their 2000 year old book of fairy tales and started living in the 21st century. What business is it of the churches or anyone else what a person decides to do within the confines of the their own personal life? This is not just about preventing pregnancy, this is about ensuring women are protected against numerous other health issues. As a woman you should care that you are treated equally.

      March 15, 2012 at 6:57 am |
    • AGuest9

      When the big-bad insurance company turns down payments for a medically necessary procedure, you'll start crowing. Recently, in Pennsylvania, there was a famous case of an employee (and spoke as a representative in TV commercials) for a major hospital HMO who was denied services by the hospital he worked for. If they can do it, what do you think private insurers will do? Which insurer are you a mouth-piece for?

      March 15, 2012 at 8:14 am |
    • captain america

      since there are no republicans in canada we may assume that by liar prevails cheap shot or ignorant misspelling that liar prevails is full of sh it. There's your sign

      March 15, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • jboh

      You must be getting "info" rom FOX, old pill-popper Limbawdy, and other talibangelicals. Go burn a cross.

      March 15, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • FLIndependent

      So sorry to hear that your President nauseates you Anne. He's sticking up and promoting women's rights and he nauseates you? WOW!!!!!!! that's all I can say.

      March 15, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  19. bl4ck0utsUn

    Great! When all the regular staff nurses of the religious sponsored hospitals, being denied more expensive, reliable contraception are pregnant and unable to work on the floor, the hospitals can pay to bring in travel nurses who's companies insurance covers such convienences, the hospitals can also pay the larger salaries too, and put up with falling customer satisfaction scores when ratio's go up!

    March 14, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • anne

      you are part of the problem. Why should people NOT HAVE TO PAY FOR THEIR DRUGS? Birth control included IF thats what they want? There is NO FREE LUNCH for anything and there are NO RIGHTS to anything other than the air-you-breathe.

      March 15, 2012 at 5:03 am |
    • AGuest9

      anne, they don't pay for L&D, however. As a doctor friend of mine has asked, "Isn't this just a bit odd?"

      March 15, 2012 at 8:16 am |
    • WASP

      @ann: no rights huh? "you are part of the problem. Why should people NOT HAVE TO PAY FOR THEIR DRUGS? Birth control included IF thats what they want? There is NO FREE LUNCH for anything and there are NO RIGHTS to anything other than the air-you-breathe."

      i believe being a former member of this countrys armed forces i fought for your right to be ignorant......and the right of my sister to have medicine she needs to insure her body funtions properly without having to go to another country to insure it gets done due to the greed of pharmasutical companies. btw she takes "the pill" to regulate her hormone levels.

      March 15, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • maggie

      Oh, Anne, do you ever actually read? "You" are not paying for anything. That "free lunch" you talk about is paid for by every person who has health insurance. It all goes into a pool that covers a huge array of illness. If I can pay for your kid's innoculations through my insurance plan, why can't you pay for my birth control through my insurance plan? I'm guessing you whip out your insurance card every time your doctor prescribes something for you. What free lunch are you talking aobut?

      March 15, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • SPA Knight

      WASP – there are alternate methods and medications to regulate hormones that are probably safer for women in the long run since the pill is linked to the increasing epidemic of breast cancer. The pill is presacribed because it's easy and cheap.

      March 15, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • SPA Knight

      Maggie – Anne and every other insurance carrier should not pay for your birth control because it's not healthcare. Pregnancy is not an illness, a disease nor a public health concern.

      March 15, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  20. J.W

    This seems like a replay of an article from a few weeks ago.

    March 14, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • BRC

      Got commetns then, gets commetns now.

      March 15, 2012 at 9:33 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.