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. God

    How many young boys do you need to molest to become a bishop?

    June 18, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Evangelical

      While I'm not going to carry water for catholics, that has absolutely nothing to do with the moral issues at stake in this case. It's just an ad homenim.

      June 18, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • Bet


      I was a catholic for about 30 years. Want to go head to head on catholic doctrine too? Or will you run away like a little bi.tch again?

      June 18, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Bet, does your head spin all the way around while you spew out green vomit from that mouth?

      June 18, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • Bet


      You seem obsessed with pea soup. Didn't "useful idiots" give you a tingle anymore?

      June 19, 2012 at 2:01 am |
  2. Mike

    Catholics are waking up to the incompetent deceiver in the White House and his lying side kick Holder..

    June 18, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • mandarax

      Yeah, funny how they slept right through the hundreds of thousands of civilians bombed by Bush in Iraq, the same man who oversaw the greatest number of executions in the history of Texas. Funny how they slept right through obscene tax breaks for the most wealthy while the poor got poorer. Good thing that now that Obama is trying to arrange universal access to healthcare that they are waking up and taking action. Clearly, a line has been crossed among those of good Christian conscience, huh?

      June 18, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Mike –

      I think you were just beatch-slapped.

      June 18, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Evangelical


      Spoken like a true liberal. Liberals are destroying this country.

      June 18, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • mandarax

      An evangelical who grunts that liberals are destroying America. 'nuf said.

      June 18, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Bet

      Evangelical is still pis.sed that he got bit.ch slapped by an atheist using his own bible the other night.

      June 18, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Bet plays the demonic little girl from the exorcists as she spews her venom from that hole in her face spitting green pea on folks.

      June 18, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Get Real

      "Evangelical is still pis.sed that he got bit.ch slapped by an atheist using his own bible the other night."

      Where was that, Bet? Which article - do you recall? It would be interesting to see.

      June 18, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • Bet

      @ Get Real

      The article about pastors who come out as atheists, somewhere on page 50, I think. Evang and I had an exchange about the scripture "god is love".

      June 19, 2012 at 2:06 am |
    • Bet

      @ HeavyStench

      Again with the pea soup and head spinning? You really need some new material.

      Maybe you need to sit in your soothing spa for a few more hours.

      June 19, 2012 at 2:09 am |
    • sam stone

      No, Eva, bigots are destroying this country

      June 19, 2012 at 4:30 am |
  3. A Paranoid Schizophrenic Jewish Man Who Died and Decayed into Dust 2,000 Years Ago


    June 18, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  4. A Paranoid Schizophrenic Jewish Man Who Died and Decayed into Dust 2,000 Years Ago


    June 18, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Delusions 3:15

      Bippy, it's uteri .. but right on. 🙂

      June 18, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  5. Phil the Love

    All life is precious.... Unless you want to marry who you want. Then they wanna lock you up. Stupid Christians

    June 18, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  6. Snow

    Say, why don't the catholics push for banning viagra as well? since it "urges people to do things they would not have been doing without the drug"? why only the focus on drugs women take that are also used to potentially save their lives..

    June 18, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Jen

      Same reason why they allowed priests to molest children. Same reason why they are going after nuns for spending too much time actually helping people. Women are nothing but worthless pieces of property.

      Not a doubt in my mind that if men were the ones getting pregnant the Catholic Church wouldn't care about abortion.

      June 18, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • btlprod

      There is nothing in Catholic Doctrine that is against medicine that cures illnesses or dysfunction. A Catholic Hospital will remove the ovaries of a woman if it is for a Medical reason, other than contraception. It isn't about not treating the sick, or injured, it is about what they believe in.

      June 18, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Jen

      Funny because they are against women trying to improve their fertility. Infertility is a dysfunction.

      June 18, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • A Catholic


      I would be perfectly fine to not cover Viagra. In fact, it should NOT be coverd.

      June 18, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Bet

      @ A Catholic

      Then why is there not the same fervor applied to banning the use of viagra in the catholic church? Why does the catholic church look the other way when insurance companies pay for viagra? Why aren't men required to bring their employers a doctor's note stating that their viagra is a medical necessity?

      Could it be that the church is run by men?

      June 19, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  7. norma jean.


    June 18, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  8. norma jean.

    I personally don't care what the Catholics do.....if they want to continue bringing too many children into a world that is already floodied with starving,,mistreated,,,undereducated children....then so be it but you do not speak for the rest of us ....Do what you have to do and leave us alone!!!!

    June 18, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • btlprod

      And how are they not leaving you alone? Are they forcing you to go to their church? Are they forcing you to follow their doctrine? It is the other way around, you are saying they need to follow your beliefs.

      The President is dictating Religious Doctrine to the Catholic Church and its members. That is a clear violation of the First Amendment.

      June 18, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Snow

      difference you need to consider @btl.. "Freedom of Religion" and "Freedom from Religion"

      June 18, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • btlprod

      @Snow "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;" Prohibiting the free exercise thereof, tells me the Government can't dictate religious doctrine to an established and recognized church or its members, regardless of how the Government wants to frame the restrictions on the members beliefs.

      June 18, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • Delusions 3:15

      There is a long history of regulation of commererce of religious inst'itutions, who chose to engage in the public square, including taking Federal Funds. No one is forcing you to run your colleges and hospitals. YOU have chosen to take public money.

      June 18, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • S


      Your argument would carry more weight if the rule was written to require that organizations that take federal funds provide birth control. But that's not how it was written. The federal government is not funding ETWN. Yet under Obama's mandate, ETWN will be forced to provide birth control to its employees.

      Yet even if the federal government were to apply that restriction, does it really seem just to tell my disabled sister that she can't receive care from a Catholic hospital – precisely because the Catholic hospital adheres to Catholic beliefs? Or do the rights of Catholic women matter only when we agree with a liberal agenda? What gives the federal government the right to essentially forbid Catholics from running hospitals – and eliminate my sister's right to Catholic healthcare – so that other women have free birth control?

      June 18, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Delusions 3:15

      They choose to accept Fed funds. If they don't like the rules, then they can all be private pay.

      June 18, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
  9. The Pope told them so

    Ooops, a group of catholics who will say one thing and do another.. what a surprise.

    June 18, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  10. CBR

    Do these groups really reflect what is happening with Catholics? Will the Catholics fall into line? We shall see.

    June 18, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  11. rob

    "....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....."

    ARE YOU KIDDING ????? Thats the kind of ignorance of capitalism that the left has. They do not understand the companies can't majically absorb costs with out raising prices. It is about time this group came around to the realization that were still being charged for the services in the form of raised rates.

    The liberal media will not be honest about this stuff because they are now openly cheerleading for this President.


    June 18, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • tffl

      Everyone else is still paying for all those children that the Catholics insist that they (and everyone else) must have by forbidding birth control. I find _that_ shameful.

      June 18, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • btlprod

      It is even worse than that. Everything covered in an Insurance policy, regardless of how you want to frame the argument, is, by law, covered by the Premium. So if the Insured is covered for Contraceptives, the Premium that the Policy holder/owner pays has to cover it. Note that in a group plan where the coverage is part of your employment, that Policy Holder/Owner is the Employer, not the Employee.

      June 18, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • S


      Are you paying for my child(ren)? I don't think so.

      This isn't about forbidding birth control. Go ahead, buy it. Follow your own conscience. The Catholic Church does believe in free will.

      But take some responsibility for your choices. Pay for your own birth control instead of trying to insist that I subsidize it for you. After all, I"m not asking you to pay for my diapers.

      June 18, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Delusions 3:15

      are you gonna pay for your own deliveries, and c-sections ?

      June 18, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
  12. WDinDallas

    Boom.....ten's of millions of Catholics follow in step.

    Let's see who else he can tick off.

    June 18, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  13. Atheism is a religion

    The case is solved!

    June 18, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Snow

      so? who cares?

      June 18, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • Atheism is a religion

      Atheists won't admit it

      June 18, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Bet

      You are trying so hard to make a point, but no one cares.

      June 18, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  14. Amber

    What happened to the separation of church and state? Why does the future of the plan rely so heavily on the catholic church? This all seems very stupid. What am I missing?

    June 18, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  15. nvsun

    Would we let the Muslims determine our health care needs? I'm guessing that's a "No" so why should we let the Catholics do it?

    June 18, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Snow

      Its called hypocrisy.. and to be a true christian, once must become immune to it.

      June 18, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • btlprod

      No PPACA simply exempts MusIims and MusIim owned businesses from the law. Not a waiver, an exemption, for religious reasons. (It also exempts Mennonites and the Amish.)

      June 18, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  16. The Corrector

    I prefer to obliterate global stupidity.

    June 18, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  17. Delusions 3:15

    Not one Catholic here can say exactly what the "moment" of conception actually is.

    June 18, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Anonymous

      Wow. That's an amazingly stupid statement. Every Catholic, and every other American who took high school biology, can tell you what the "moment of conception" was. Did you really mean to say "the moment when human life begins," perhaps?

      June 18, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • wrong side of the bed

      Conception begins at last call.I thought everyone knew that.

      June 18, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Anonymous –

      You might want to remain prudent when talking smack – gametes are "human life" prior to fertilization.

      June 18, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @wrong side of the bed –

      Funny stuff.


      June 18, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Delusions 3:15

      ok Anonymous, when exactly is it ?

      June 18, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Delusions 3:15 –

      Hint: Anonymous has no idea.

      June 18, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Really-O?

      ..."no idea" with regard to "human life"...I think he understands conception.

      June 18, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Delusions 3:15

      We want to know when the soul is infused. Is it when DNA is 0.023908765721324567869087864536721423 % replicated, or is is when the first electron cloud of the sperm, approaches the electron cloud of the egg cell ?

      June 18, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Delusions 3:15 –

      It's whenever Jesus says so, smart alec!

      June 18, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Delusions 3:15

      k then

      June 18, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
  18. Lol

    Somebody should take a crop duster plane and dust the pope and his child rapist protecting buddies with a dense cloud of 100% AIDS.

    June 18, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      Don't forget San Francisco. There are more gays there than the Catholic Church.

      Yes, all pedophiles are gay.

      June 18, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • nope


      June 18, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • wrong side of the bed

      @weally,weally dumb in dallas...Ah,forget it.

      June 18, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  19. Gay Guy


    June 18, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • sam

      Go away, boring troll.

      June 18, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • wrong side of the bed

      Gay people do not type in caps.You sir -are busted!!

      June 18, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  20. Tracy

    Where I am they are trying to require that those Who work with teenage unwed Mother's
    be on some soft of birth control as They seem to think that it would help when counseling
    these young mothers. I happen to disagree.

    Some if not half of You are against the Catholics because of history and what You hear
    in the news media outlets. Have some of You ever even stepped foot into one of the
    so called churches You flame? I may not like all religions but I do have an open mind and
    I do believe to each His own beliefs. Who am I to judge this sort of thing?

    As for the contraceptive thing. It's against a Catholic's religious beliefs, so then why should
    they have to be forced to do something that they are against? Why should it have to be
    required etc? We are all preaching how our rights are being taken away how nothing is the
    same anymore, and yet those that are still yelling ranting and raving are trying their hardest
    to make it into something wrong when one does not wish to give out a contraceptive. If it's
    such a big deal then tell the said hospitals and doctor's they will not get federal funding, but
    don't ostracize them on how they feel. I am not a Catholic though I spent time in the church
    because of My Father and other family members. I do like some of their beliefs and I don't
    agree on other's so does it make it wrong? Not at all. Just because I don't believe in one thing
    doesn't mean that's bad or wrong. It just means I believe in diversity but I believe it is wrong
    to try to force a said religion to go against what they believe in. As Christians I don't believe
    any of Us should have that right.

    And if all this so called author cares about are political ties I really feel sorry for Him because
    in all reality whether catholic baptist whatever those Who would want somebody in office will
    be elected but We all have our own free will. Those loyal to the whole political system will still
    vote and take part. We will vote for Whom We feel is best to fit that seat not because a Priest,
    Bishop or any other wants to swing it in another direction.

    June 18, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Sean

      Its against my religion to ride with a seatbelt... in your argument I should be able to get away with it?

      June 18, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Delusions 3:15

      Is that how they taught you to write in Catholic school ?

      June 18, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • tffl

      And why should I be forced to support the Catholic church's views (which are not mine) with my tax dollars? I am not really happy that churches are tax exempt, because that means I am implicitly supporting them with my taxes (if only by paying more taxes to make up for those they don't pay), but I cope with that. However, I am really unhappy about my taxes explicitly supporting hospitals and schools that are permitted to decide who they will serve and how based on their religious beliefs.

      June 18, 2012 at 6:49 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.