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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. dah00

    That's too bad. Funny why CHA changed its tune? Maybe pressure from Pope and Bishops? Too bad.

    June 18, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  2. Enlightened4

    Obama wages a war against Freedom of Religion and has a hostile record of being anti Christian. Although, he recently has targeted Catholics, he has also targeted protestants in the past 31/2 yrs. He not only attacks Christians, he attacks the First Amendment. Anyone who values their Faith and/or values their Freedom will vote against this Marxist, Obama.

    June 18, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • BobZemko

      Are those screaming voices in your head telling you all this?

      June 18, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • dah00

      Nah. Plenty of Catholics including me don't agree with the Pope or the Bishops on contraception.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • sam

      You forgot to end your post with "and them whiteys, he at war with them too."

      June 18, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Duane - St. Pete FLA

      Atheists like myself think Obama is an nut job as well.....Empty suit, over his head, elitist…….oh, incompetent

      June 18, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  3. jsm6133

    Please check your use of the word 'abortifacients'. "abortifacients – drugs that cause abortions" is not the understanding from a medical ethics perspective, even Catholic medical ethics. Errors in definitions of medical/ethical terms is still factual errors.

    June 18, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  4. Duane - St. Pete FLA

    the US goverment is not here to "make things fair". If you are smart, work hard and come up with a product or service people want then you get rich, if not, than work, pay your bills and deal with it.....that or leave. The poor use most all of the services yet pay no taxes....that's nuts too. TAX THE POOR!!!

    June 18, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • DontPretend

      I agree completely, but, unfortunately, there is a misplaced romanticism associated with the poor that causes some people to feel it is their duty to give them something for nothing. This same preverted sense of fairness also leads them to feel it is okay to rob the rich to pay for the poors' inability to provide for themselves. For some reason (to some people), it is more diginified and appropriate to do nothing for yourself than it is to be successful.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  5. wobbles

    Why do so many of you that cry foul about the first ammendemnt when it suits your beliefs so opposed to the protection it is also supposed to provide for catholics and other religious groups? Do their rights mean less because you disagree with them? If you can justify the voiding of the rights of groups you disagree with, aren't you just little closet fascists?

    June 18, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  6. nolimits3333

    The three greatest evils in the world are Islam, the Catholic Church, and the Republican Party.

    Not necessarily in that order.

    June 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • BobZemko

      No, I think that's the correct order.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • wobbles

      Who set you up as God to decide who else gets to have rights?

      June 18, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  7. susanna

    Maybe Obama should enlist the devil for surpport

    June 18, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Dan

      The devil doesn't like contraception either because it alleviates human misery

      June 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • wobbles

      How do you think he got elected in the first place?

      June 18, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Bo

      I think Obama is an agent of the devil, but I don't think that he is the only one, I think that most politicians are agents of the devil.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Gay Guy

      Obama is THE DEVIL, HELL BENT ON DESTROYING AMERICA, HOW DO U KNOW OBAMAS LIEING DEMBOS????? EASY!!!! WHEN HIS LIPS ARE MOVEING. GAYS AGAINST OBAMA

      June 18, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Enlightened4

      You think the devil is not on Obama's side, do ya? How silly of you.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  8. mm

    More religious nutcases. Hypocrites and cult. Molesting little boys and covering up numerous other crimes is acceptable. Those sitting in your pews and going to confession are not practicing birth control, right?
    Take away all their government funding and tax breaks.
    Separation of church and state, remember?

    June 18, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • MIchael

      It seems the Catholic Church is practicing "Separation of Church and State". The State mandate violated their religious beliefs, so the Church is exercising its right.

      "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

      June 18, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • mm

      Michael, I guess you missed the point. Let me break it down.
      Stop giving them aid and tax breaks if they want to call their own rules under the umbrella of being a religious cult, I mean chuch.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  9. Duane - St. Pete FLA

    the US goverment is not there to hand out birth control....if you want birth control buy a rubber. this is nuts that we are even talking about this...what do you libs want next? This is why Obama and you libs need to go....lets get back to a goverment that does what it is met to do....stay out of free enterprises way. Big goverment sucks....

    June 18, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  10. judy

    the hospitals are takeing their que from the bishops. The church should try handeling the problems it already has. Like pedophiles in the ranks and leave contraception alone. Most catholics use birth control this is hipocritical. So much for church and state church is sounding more like right wing repos to me, Thake goodness i left the church for a more tolerant religion. Hey we even think gays won;t go to hell

    June 18, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • mattfaley

      Judy, I'm sorry you feel that way about the Church you were baptized in. Unfortunately, you were grossly misinformed along the way. Have you been to school? Do you have kids in school? More (an astounding amount) pedophilia takes place in schools than in the Catholic Church. Do you not believe in school now? The Catholic Church has never, ever, said gays are going to Hell. Ever. In fact, never has anyone in the Church said anyone is going to Hell.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  11. FLIndependent

    Contraception is not abortion and no one is forcing any Catholic to get birth control or have an abortion. That is NOT the issue. These are businesses that need to abide by the law and provide the coverage to its employees as many employees are not Catholic. Many women need birth control for medical reasons and, even if they are using it for the intended purpose, one would think the Catholic Church would support this as it controls the world population which is the cause of hunger, high unemployment, disease, etc. The Church is protesting for two reasons: Money & politics. Face it folks – President Obama is our last hope to bring our country and the Church into the 21st Century. If he can't do it, I'm afraid we'll be forever behind the rest of the world and that is very scary.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Mikey

      Exactly. These are money making businesses and corporations (well so is the church but that is a whole different debate). The employees are not necessarily Catholic and the employer should have to abide by whatever labor laws are applicable. Being a church (synagogue, mosque etc.) and being an employer must be held separately, or there is a very slippery slope to disregarding any labor law you disagree with on religious grounds.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  12. BO Stinks

    One more group who is dropping BHO.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Nah, most Catholics couldn't care less since most Catholics use birth control anyway.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  13. Bob Brown

    There is no such thing as "free." If I get something without paying, someone else paid.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Dan

      You pay taxes, don't you?

      June 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  14. waikikijohn

    This organization should spend more time worrying about child abuse by their church and less time trying to dictate government policy. Wake up, this is why we have separation of church & state.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Leonard

      School districts should do the same... and they have a bigger problem.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • MIchael

      This government should spend more time worrying about middle-class jobs and less time trying to dictate the success or failure of sperm.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  15. Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

    For all you Catholics who don't follow the dogma of the Catholic church, do yourself a favor and leave the Catholic church. The higher ups don't want you there anyway. There is no sense in putting money into the collection plate that only goes to increase the massive wealth of the church and to pay for the pedophile defense fund.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Patrick

      Sounds like you are describing the unions.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Rick

      NO Patrick, he's talking about your church

      June 18, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  16. RGOne

    I was born and raised catholic. Believe me, most catholics use contraceptives. It's the church itself, not the members that oppose this.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Huebert

      Then why are you still members of the Catholic church?

      June 18, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Btlprod

      That is their right. It has nothing to to do with the Government dictating religious doctrine.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • RGOne

      Never said I was still a catholic. I believe in GOD, I just don't like any christian faiths, they are all hipocrates. Even non-denominations.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  17. NJBob

    It's hard to believe anyone still listens to ANYTHING the Catholic Church has to say after that huge world-wide child abuse scandal and the efforts to cover it up. The church is morally bankrupt and has squandered any authority it might have had.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Dan

      Yeah no kidding. I've still yet to hear an explanation for that

      June 18, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Al Blue

      By your goofy nonlogic we Jews are responsible for all of Israel's many crimes.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Dan

      Nope. I'm not blaming all Catholics for the scandal, I'm wondering why high-level church officials covered it up

      June 18, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Btlprod

      Two wrongs make a right? How does that justify the Government, through executive fiat, dictating religious doctrine?

      June 18, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Dan

      Not dictating doctrine, dictating the regulations to which businesses are subject.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Btlprod

      Yet other businesses are exempt due to religious beliefs.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Dan

      Really? Which ones?

      June 18, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Catholic Clarity

      You are clearly out of touch with the Catholic Church – I don't see how you can even say this.

      June 18, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  18. Not All Docs Play Golf

    Hey, Pope, get you and your goofy pointy white hat out of my bedroom. It reminds me too much of the Klan.

    June 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • leelanau

      Why don't you keep your bedroom out of my wallet. You remind us all too much of Obama.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • sam

      Hey leelanau – feel free to ask whatever church you belong to to stop taking any and all federal assistance, then, in any capacity. Then you can ignore national laws.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  19. Flex

    Halleluia.....

    June 18, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  20. lloyd roberts

    The reason the Catholic church is against birth control is that the Vatican must keep a steady supply of children to be exploited

    June 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Michael

      Why Obama is on the side of illegals- votes/power.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • leelanau

      The actual reasons why are a little hard for you to understand apparently.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Catholic Clarity

      You are completely out of touch with the teachings of the Catholic Church in relation to contraceptoin so why do you even feign to say a word about it??

      June 18, 2012 at 10:53 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.