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Key Catholic group drops support for White House contraception plan
The Obama administration wants to require insurance companies to provide free contraception coverage.
June 18th, 2012
11:24 AM ET

Key Catholic group drops support for White House contraception plan

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) – The Obama administration’s key Catholic ally on its controversial plan to require health insurers to provide free contraceptive coverage is dropping support for the plan, potentially complicating the president’s relations with Catholics in an election year.

The Catholic Health Association, which comprises 2,000 Catholic hospitals, health systems and related organizations, said Friday that although it had initially supported what the White House called a compromise on the contraception issue, it is now “deeply concerned” about the plan and says the White House “has not relieved our initial concerns.”

Many Catholic groups expressed opposition to the Obama administration’s proposal to require employers to provide free contraception coverage to their employees. Although the plan exempted churches, other religiously affiliated employers - including colleges and hospitals - were not exempt.

In the face of that opposition, the Department of Health and Human Services tweaked its original rule in February to require health insurers, not employers, to cover the cost of contraception coverage, reasoning that would prevent Catholics instructions from having to finance such coverage.

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The so-called compromise won support from certain Catholic groups, most significantly the Catholic Health Association, which calls itself the nation’s largest group of nonprofit health care providers.

“The Catholic Health Association is very pleased with the White House announcement that a resolution has been reached that protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions,” Sister Carol Keehan, president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association, said in a February statement.

But on Friday, the Catholic Health Association sounded a much different line, saying in a letter to the agency that “We remain deeply concerned … with the approach the Administration has taken with respect to contraceptive services, especially abortifacient drugs and sterilization.”

The administration denies that its contraception mandate covers abortifacients - drugs that cause abortions - but some socially conservative groups disagree.

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In its letter, the Catholic Health Association urged the administration to broaden its exemption on the contraceptive mandate to include different kinds of religiously affiliated institutions.

The American Roman Catholic bishops have steadfastly criticized the Health and Human Services rule. The Catholic Health Association’s support for the rule gave the Obama some Catholic political cover in the face of such attacks.

Catholic voters represent one of the largest swing voting blocs in the nation, voting with the winning presidential candidate in every election since the 1970s.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Catholic Church • Health care • Politics

soundoff (1,412 Responses)
  1. Jeff from Columbus

    Wait – CNN still thinks Obama is trying to win the Catholic vote? Really?

    This mandate made pretty clear Obama's position towards Catholics. After this mandate, how in the world could he possibly try to win their vote?

    June 18, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Judging from the fact that 90+% Catholics use birth control, I think the only vote he is losing from Catholics are from the higher ups. Catholics don't care about the rules the Catholic church has laid down. I think they should all just leave the church if they aren't going to adhere to the church rules. This way the church will implode in on itself when it gets no more donations.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • effelbee

      The individual mandate which you refer to in the Health Care Act was the GOP's major policy idea in the late 1990s. You apparently do not realize that is where this part of the legislation originated. The Catholic church had no problem with it then. The issue now is simply whether Catholic affiliated organizations have to provide for it if there employees sign up and pay for it. Get it?

      June 18, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Jeff from Columbus

      Why would I be referring to the individual mandate? This article is about the HHS mandate regarding birth control.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  2. Ricke1949

    How can any of you state something is wrong? What makes your plumb line 90 degrees? Your religion is what you believe in your own head. The intolerance at this site falls into the Brown Shirt category.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • clogIc

      Given your premise, I suppose infanticide, domestic abuse, and racism would not always be wrong and in general situationally judged?

      June 18, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  3. HenryMiller

    The only people who support Obama's "plan to require health insurers to provide free contraceptive coverage" are losers too cheap to pay for their own meds and want other people to be forced to pay for them. What's next? Require insurers to provide free heart transplants?

    June 18, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  4. liz

    The President should not stress over this because one of the dirty little secrets of the Catholic Church is most women who identify as Catholic are have or will use birth control. The President is on the right side of history when it comes to protect a woman's reproductive rights.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Jeff from Columbus

      How does this mandate "protect a woman's reproductive right?". Please explain.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom the Piper's Son

      I have a better question Jeff. In what way does a health insurance company providing COMPLETE care, harm you?

      June 18, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • MickS

      Tom, Catholics believe that this policy will force them to facilitate the harming of children. At least address the issue!

      June 18, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom the Piper's Son

      I’m well aware of the Catholic delusion. However they undermine their own argument when stating one can buy contraceptive HEATLH CARE without insurance. So ‘they’ (which is a ridiculous argument) don’t want to harm ‘children’ but they have no problem if everyone else does! Well that at least explains they why they let the priests get away with it.

      Notice he did not respond himself.

      June 19, 2012 at 8:04 am |
  5. A Catholic

    Catholics should resist the Obama administration at every chance. Vote for Romney who will ensure freedom of religion.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • effelbee

      Ah, I see you are a great respecter of the separation of church and state. And where does it say in the Gospels that prevention of unwanted pregnancies is wrong? Where does Jesus mention that women have lesser rights than men, or that his followers of The Way must always be men??

      June 18, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Not a Catholic

      Good one! Know one knows what's better for the Catholics than a Mormon.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  6. Al

    Good, he does not deserve a second change to mess up more. It's a good thing that the Catholic church made a good choice by not backing him.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • A Catholic

      Right

      June 18, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • dale

      what did he do wrong? Or is it that he is not a Republlican?

      June 18, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  7. JL

    Trampling on religious freedoms aside, doesn't anyone see a problem with forcing a private company to provide a service at no charge their customer? Contraception is legal, fine, those who don't have a religious objection to it may purchase it. That's justified. But forcing a company to provide it for free is a completely ludicrous idea in a free democracy. Should Obama step in and force all grocery stores to start providing healthy foods to customers for free? That would benefit people's health more than contraception, but why should those receiving the benefit get it for free while the provider eats the bill. Even if the government subsidized them that just means we all pay for it. Can't people understand that nothing is free.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • effelbee

      The employees may have to pay 100% of the additional premium themselves. The point is that the employers (only Catholic affiliates, not the church of course) have to offer it and the insurers cannot charge the affiliate for offering it. Your interpretation is incorrect from the start.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Ken

      Charing no co-pay for birth control is not the same financial equation as "giving away free food." There is a cost-savings effect on not paying for abortions, followup OB care, and delivieries. Some studies have projected a savings of up to $8000 per person per 2 year period. However there is conflicting evidence about it. http://www.factcheck.org/2012/02/cloudy-contraception-costs/

      Bottom line – your analogy is incorrect in this situation. Pick a different reason to oppose Obama's position.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  8. John

    Us Catholics do not agree with most of what comes out of the Vatican anyway. Only an idiot would.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • chris

      So let me get this straight...I should come to "John" on the cnn board when I want to know what Catholic doctrine "should be". Come on.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Why are you even Catholic then, if you don't agree with their teachings?

      June 18, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • effelbee

      There do seem to be some of the idiot Catholics posting here!

      June 18, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      Jacques in right, of course, just like he is with everything. Especially ball juggling.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  9. dreamer96

    Jesus was a pacifist, yet the religious are always pushing for the next war..Religious Conservative Politicians can not wait to bring on WWIII, and the apocalypse..just to prove to the world they were right all along about GOD....

    June 18, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • JL

      That was real pacifist of Jesus when he fashioned a whip and started flipping the tables of the money changers in the temple.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • stm60

      Regions push wars? You mean like the Mennonites? Quakers? Amish? or are you just referrring to Catholics like Dorthy Day, Thomas Merton and Danial Berrigan?

      June 18, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      They think that it's their responsibility to make it come true. Heard of the Dominionist's yet? Religious delusions are a scourge to humanity, and we should be doing everything we can to make sure it withers away.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  10. Floyd from Ilinois

    The Pope and his minions extorted them into reversing themselves.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Dan

      Exactly

      June 18, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • MickS

      Indeed, he sent the dreaded Swiss Guard to the US to work them over with blackjacks until the nuns relented. I heard the Pople had Kennedy shot because he wasn't replacing publice schools with Catholic schools after he became president. They are so darn sneaky.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  11. Blue

    Most of the women are for President Obama. It is just the higher=ups that have gone crazy. I guess it is okay for the higher-ups to take advantage of young boys.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      By "higher ups" you mean old, white, religiously delusional men, right?

      June 18, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  12. Velk

    why are there all these heartless and angry liberals ruining this comment feed?

    June 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Dan

      We're angry because the Catholic Church is ruining the world

      June 18, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Velk

      how is the Catholic church ruining the world by not giving free contraceptives? it isn't banning them just refusing to administering them for free. you are obviosly socialist

      June 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Dan

      It discourages contraception when contraception is KNOWN to bring about prosperity by allowing women to control their reproductive cycle and have children under their own terms. If the Catholic Church actually cared about humanity they would distribute condoms all across the globe

      June 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      Not only that, it could help prevent the spread of AIDS in Africa, but the Catholics would rather they all died of the disease.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  13. FLIndependent

    Now who's playing politics? This compromise was months ago, so I guess the Bishops that were against it got to this organization and made them come out publicly against President Obama. Where are those wonderful nuns that support the President's policy and are also speaking out against the Ryan Plan...their voices need to be heard loud & clear! This is getting so tiresome & the people need to step up and not allow the Catholic Church to run our country!!

    June 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  14. Why_Bother

    Catholicism is like the black plague. It spread like wildfire and claims many lives throughout history. Has anyone invented the vaccination for this?

    June 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Yeah, it's called a brain.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • AndriconBoy

      So when a wildfire spreads rapidly and claims lives, is it more like the Black Plague or Catholicism?

      June 18, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Can't it be like both?

      June 18, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      If (Black Plague)=(Catholicism), then yes, it could be both.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  15. Rob

    Good. Let the stupid religious catholic idiots keep conceiving more babies for the priests to abuse.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Velk

      you watch too much TV

      June 18, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Rob

      You don't live in the real world. Get a clue, religious coward.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  16. osesfoods

    Wow. Just wow! I can't beleive how much influence the Catholic church really has over politicians. Look as hard as you may, there is no where in the Bible it says that birth control is a murder. Not even a mention of Birth Control. Just shocking.

    Religion has to go!

    June 18, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Velk

      no one back then was heartless enough to try to kill babies.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Dan

      What a stupid comment, Velk. Birth control is older than Jesus

      June 18, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Velk

      how is birth control older than Jesus? and Christianity started with Judaism long before Jesus redeemed us so it doesn't matter if it was before or after.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • stm60

      Actually, I don't think any religion says birth control as such is bad. Its that some religions obviously have a more liberal and open and careing view of what life is than you do. Those religions oppose killing people. Its a shame that more people don't agree. We would be a more peaceful world if they did.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Dan

      Written evidence of birth control dates back to 1850 BCE, and assumedly people were using it before then

      June 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      The whole basis of their argument is a Bible character named Onan who spilled his seed on the ground and the Great Goober struck him dead.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • mainstream

      Velk,
      They have found condoms (obviously made from organic materials) in some Egyptian tumbs along with other artifacts.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • sam stone

      birth control was around in mesopotamia 1850 BCE

      June 18, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom the Piper's Son

      Religion score 0
      Education score 1

      June 19, 2012 at 8:00 am |
  17. QS

    Special rights for religion need to be stopped.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  18. Ken in NC

    Oh.By the way, show me in the bible where GOD says HE has laid out rules governing how religions control a womans body.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Genesis says something about man dominating women. I think it is Genesis 3, when the great goober is laying out his punishment for the whole fruit and talking snake incident.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  19. kindness

    For me: See for yourself.
    I Follow Christ . I never wanted proof. I just had faith.

    He who follows Me, walks not in darkness,” says the Lord (John 8:12). By these words
    of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and
    free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus
    Christ.
    The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the saints, and he who
    has His spirit will find in it a hidden manna. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often
    but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand
    fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ.

    What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you
    displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous
    life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it.
    For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the
    philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity,
    except to love God and serve Him alone.

    This is the greatest wisdom—to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the
    world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court
    honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to desire
    things for which severe punishment later must come. It is vanity to wish for long life and
    to care little about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and
    not to make provision for things to come. It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not
    to look ahead where eternal joy abides.
    Often recall the proverb: “The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with
    hearing.”1 Try, moreover, to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring
    yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences
    and lose the grace of God.

    See for yourself. You will be on a battlefield for christ

    June 18, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      ..." be on the battlefield for Christ?"....What is it with you religious people and your fascination with war? Why are the right wing evangelicals the biggest war hawks? Is it perhaps because the entire Old Testament was one big war diary?

      June 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  20. Walter

    Love reading these anti-Catholic comments from the left. It appears religion (or the lack thereof) is the new delineation between Democrats and Republicans.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      I am neither Democrat nor Republican and I despise organized religon all the same. The whole problem is partisan politics. If you consider yourself a staunch Republican or Democrat, you are an idiot.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      No, Walter, and please do not equate religiosity with morals. Remember the immoral priests who abused boys, as an example. I am quite suspect of people who so proudly and loudly where their religion. If you choose to believe that a guy named Jinah survived 3 days in the belly of a whale in the ocean....fine...believe it. But don't let that influence government. And it was the Republican party under Reagan who first courted the religious right to get their votes, even as Reagn himself held a personal disdain for the TV evangelists of his day. Besides, Jesus would be a Democrat, so get off your high horse.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Dan

      I'm critical of the Catholic Church because it is a powerful, oppressive insti tution. I feel exactly the same way about Haliburton

      June 18, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      No, Jesus would not affiliate himself with any political group. He didn't back in his day, and he wouldn't today either.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:05 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.