home
RSS
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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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. Scott Johnston

    Certainly the bishops put pressure on the CHA. BUT – Obama still doesn't get it – nor does Sebelius and the HHS Department. There are zealots in the Administration who are picking away at any and all exemptions for religiously affiliated organizations. And I say this, as a Catholic, who believes that the ant-contraception stance is not some article of faith infallibly demanded. To put contraception on the same level as abortion is demeaning to human life. However, Obama learned nothing from his encounter at Notre Dame. He could have avoided the whole mess if (1) he were an astute politician and (2) if he simply had overruled Sebelius's dictum. He handled it in a totally incompetent manner. It doesn't matter that most Catholics oppose the Church stance on contraception. What matters is that just enough Catholics will vote against Obama to deny him re-election – or just vote for neither guy. So, the Catholics who would otherwise be supporting him are kicked in the face by a tone-deaf President. By the way, Romney is no better. I amy very well skip the Presidential election and cast my votes for the other political offices.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • See Forever Eye

      It doesn't matter that most Catholics oppose the Church stance on contraception...............

      Yes it does.
      The church wants bodies in the pews to toss money on the plate.
      Less and less Catholics are going to church because the church wont evolve.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Mikey

      But the CHURCH isn't being asked to agree with contraception for its adherants. It is being asked as an EMPLOYER (corporation) to grant its employees the same coverage that all other employers do.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  2. flatbush

    It looks like they were leaned on by the Bishops. How dare they take a position, regardless of the righteousness of that position, if the Church disagrees? They should all be ashamed of themselves, and since the Church is getting involved in politics, shouldn't they be taxed?

    June 18, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  3. Jim

    Abolish the catholic church tax exemption.

    I'm fed up with my tax money being used to house and defend child molesters.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Kristina

      Your tax money isn't being used to do anything with respect to the Catholic church, sweetheart. They are tax exempt, which means they don't pay certain taxes. It doesn't mean your taxes go to them in any way, shape, or form.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Chris

      Kristina, you mean the hospitals they run do not get medicaid or medicare?

      June 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Michael

      @Kristina, you're not entirely correct. Bush used an executive order to create The White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives which funds Faith-based organizations, including some run by the Catholic Church. Likewise most hospitals and medical facilities run by the Catholic church receive Federal funds in the form of tax breaks, medicare and medicaid payments, etc.,. While the government says that none of those funds can be used directly for proselytism, Catholic organizations have used the birth control issue to claim that everything they do is faith outreach and hence government mandates should not apply. There's a logic problem there... if it their actions are faith outreach then they should be denied direct government funds. If their actions are not faith outreach then they should receive funds, but be under the same rule of law as any other organization receiving funds.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Kristina

      Chris, medicaid and medicare are funds provided to INDIVIDUALS for health treatments. Those individuals may seek out treatment at a Catholic hospital or any other hospital. If that money is paid to the hospital, is is in EXCHANGE for a service. Government money isn't paid directly to the hospital in the way it is to states or other organizations who receive government money in EXCHANGE for nothing. If you can't understand the clear difference, you need to pursue further education and I can't help you dude.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Mikey

      Very nicely phrased Michael. You either are, or are not. In this case I believe the hospitals are corporations, and should have to accept the same rules as all other employers.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  4. linda Operle

    That's the problem all this is about "the church" what about God? You don't need any church or their politics to worship God if "churches" were abolished we'd all be better off. If God is angry it' s not over Birth control it's over church control. Not that I believe any of it anyway. Obama 2012!

    June 18, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  5. p

    Do Catholic hospitals treat people of all faiths or JUST Catholics?
    If they serve the public, the simply MUST adhere to Federal Law.
    Last time I checked the USA was NOT a Catholic country...

    June 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      using your logic, the Congress should have the same benefits as you do considering you pay the bill if you are a taxpayer.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Jeff R

      No but there's this funny little thing called Freedom of Religion. You can't force any religion to do something against its core principles. That's why Quakers don't have to sign up for the draft.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • The Knight of God

      If it is agaisnt their faith they are under no obligation to do that due to freedom of religion. They aren't doing anything wrong. Are you saying, you'd want to take away rights from religious folk? You'd be just as bad as those who are the other way around.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @The Knight of God

      If they want to get into a public business, then they cannot receive any government funds and keep any kind of selective policies. That's just the way the law goes. If they want to give up all government funding, they can refuse contraception all day long and I wouldn't give a cra.p. Once they take that money, they cannot, by law, refuse contraception or put into practice any kind of discriminatory policies even based in their religion. That's why a lot of religious adoption agencies have decided to shut themselves down rather than place kids with same-se.x couples.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Chris

      If your employer is a Jehova Witness and you ever need to pay for a very expensive blood tranfusion out of pocket because it goes against your employer's freedom, then you may change your mind.
      You open that door and every business is going to claim freedom of religion to deny coverage of basic health care for thei employees.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Kristina

      Chris-- a blood transfusion is not the same is contraceptives. First, one is given in response to a life threatening condition, and one is not. Thus one is clearly "basic healthcare," while the other is just something that allows one to avoid the possible consequences of $ex.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  6. Edward Probex

    Soon we will need to activate the militia and remove these replublican leaders of tirrany from office and positions of power. The Union successfully executed this in the first civil ward, now we simply are waiting on the second civil ward to rid outselves of these power mongers.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • gettinby

      what?

      June 18, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Shadowflash1522

      So you are proposing that we conscript all the foster children ("civil wards") to forcibly remove Republicans from office? Great idea! Then we can enjoy outselves–not to be confused with our inselves–in our new tirrany-free lives at the hands of the civil wards.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  7. mario

    Mitt Romney said some cruel and horrible things about the Dream act and Immigration reform and singed Tea Party pledge's that he can't areas just to get the republican nomination. The Obama Reelection Team will remind all hispanics in October and November.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  8. Recondo101

    The church can not make a deal with liars and this administration is nothing but liars, top to bottom.

    June 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Matt

      Yes, it's not like cutting deals with child molesters after all. The Catholic Church should just get out of all businesses if it can't seperate Jeebus from Cash.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • John

      Fortunately, the Catholic Church is so honest and moral.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Uncle Bob

      Why would liars want to make a deal with child molesters?

      June 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • See Forever Eye

      Recondo,
      You just lied.
      Thats a sin.
      You will burn.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  9. Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

    How come the Catholics aren't upset that insurance companies cover ED pills? Fact is, contraceptives have a far broader use for maintaining a woman's health than just preventing pregancies. There are women who use them who do not even have the ability to get pregnant anymore. So Catholics, if you are going to rail against contraceptives, you better rail against ED pills too.

    June 18, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Matt

      Most Catholics have to live in reality, they are familiar and accepting of contraception, abortion, gays, etc. The BISHOPS make political decisions and are child molesters.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  10. JIm M

    Maybe we should be asking ourselves why one must be employed in order to get health insurance...wouldn't that make more sense.

    June 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  11. JIm M

    If these hospitals are employers, they must follow the rules.

    June 18, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  12. Pt8685

    Its so sad that CNN's 'belief blog' has become nothing but a magnet for bitter atheists and anti-Christian ranting. There's no dialog. No attempt at understanding. Anytime I've tried to hold a rational conversation about belief, my comments are met with vitriol and sarcasm, slanders against religion, personal insults, juvenile stupidity and profanity.

    June 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      Amen

      June 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • John Prine

      Nailed it on the head.

      June 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • sam stone

      Don't forget the theist bloviating and empty proxy threats

      June 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Kristina

      I agree. That is ok. Believers will get the last laugh because all will have the day when they "meet their maker," so to speak.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • NONATHEIST

      You are so correct. That is why I used to visit this site several times per week and now only check in a couple times a month. Even then, I rarely read the comments. Stay strong in the face of hate.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • John

      Check out any of the Belief articles regarding atheism or agnosticism and see what the "loving" Christians and those of other religions post in the comments.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Matt

      Tell you what when the rest of us don't have to live under your christian fascism you can have a say...until then back to the child molesting with you....no wonder you are "pro-life", more to molest.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • See Forever Eye

      Most of you dont want a conversation.
      You want to stand on your soapbox and recite scripture.
      You think because "you" have found god, that you are somehow "superior".
      I find most of you at the very least annoying, and at the most......ARROGANT !

      June 18, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  13. Phil

    Can we please start taxing churches?

    Please?

    June 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      No.

      June 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • ForGoodOfAll

      Yes!

      June 18, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • flatbush

      Not all churches. But clearly the Catholic Church has become an arm of the Republican Party. It should be taxed.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • MT gal

      I agree with you! tax churches and hospitals!!

      June 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      flatbush. I think you need to look up Liberation Theology. After reading that you will be absolutely sure the Catholic Church is Marxist!

      June 18, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  14. mll

    Yep, lost one but gained how many? This lady was leaned heavily upon by the all male fraternity at the Vatican and hiearchy below. Catholics and Evangelicals get their power from the poor, uneducated masses. Their whole direction is to keep momma barefoot, pregnant and dumbed down. Think not, just look at the demographics they represent. That way they, the all male fraternity, will always have complete power.

    June 18, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • SPA Knight

      This sounds like a tremendous overlap with the Democratic Party's demographics.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  15. Chris

    Why don't the Catholic hospitals just shame their employees who use birth control. Just send out a daily memo to all employees. "Did you use birth control today? If so, you made Jesus cry."

    June 18, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • ForGoodOfAll

      LOL!!!!!!!

      June 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  16. bailee

    The Catholic Church has no business playing the "Church and State" political card in the first place. One Catholic Bishop in the City of Peoria, Illinois, has come out and called President Obama some very shocking names over the "war against women", so I really don't think President Obama needs these votes anyway. Women in America, will NOT be controlled by the Catholic Church. And when there is a decision to be made about birth control, it is the WOMAN, who must decide, not the Catholic Church. It is far past time that the Catholic Church change their doctrine which they have used for control and brainwashing, for thousands of years!! The Pope would truly be "shocked" if he knew how many Catholic parishioners really don't support Catholic doctrine, but are STUCK in it because of the rigid control the Catholic Church uses on its congregations.

    June 18, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • John Prine

      It's not about control, it's about what their faith and beliefs.. Church and State should be separate, but it doesn't mean that the Church can't have an opinion or back who they favor.

      June 18, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Mark

      I'm Catholic but what the church is doing is wrong! The church needs to give their followers the trust to do what the teachings call for. If you can't trust your followers who can you trust but denying them health coverage because of the birth control mandate is wrong, just plain wrong.

      That is liken to the masses demanding that no one ever send their children to Catholic schools because of the priest abuse the past few decades. Really?

      June 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  17. ChristopherM

    Your church-owned hospital is NOT a church. If it were, they could get away with hiring and treating only Catholics. The Catholic church is seriously making fools of their hierarchy with beating this drum and funding the National Organization for Marriage instead of dealing in a sincere and comprehensive manner with their child abuse scandals that keep popping up. Focus on the real problem, people!

    June 18, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • "militant" catholics

      we need to get to a REAL national health plan and lose all of the stupid stuff that goes along with trying to make a failed system work.

      June 18, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Ecclesiastes 7:17

      The one problem Chris is with those that want to tell the Catholic Church what to do when they should be minding their own business.

      June 18, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So, Ecc, you support the right of women to choose? After all, that's none of your business, either.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  18. "militant" catholics

    some tumors are estrogen fed. does it have anything to do with that? (they won't tell us until after we have the tumor)

    June 18, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  19. John Prine

    You will NEVER please everyone. And the reason why this DOES matter is because whether you like it or not, some people are religious. They will support what they believe, and have every right too. Just as non-religious people have the right to theirs... Sorry if you don't like that Obama isn't being supported, but that's kind of what Catholics base their life around.. the Church.. so this shouldnt be a surprise to any of you.

    June 18, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • "militant" catholics

      kids will try to push for santa claus for many years after they don't believe in santa claus anymore.

      June 18, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  20. Nikki

    I thought that the State of government and religion was to be separate.... And people should do what they want– birth control or not. It shouldn't matter what a person chooses.

    June 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • still my guitar gently weeps

      And if State and Religion are separate then why is Obama messing with Religion?!!

      June 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • still my guitar gently weeps

      And if State and Religion are separate then why is Obama messing with Religion?!

      June 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • See Forever Eye

      *** still my guitar gently weeps

      And if State and Religion are separate then why is Obama messing with Religion?!!
      -------------------------------------

      You have that backwards.
      You have eyes but you do not see.
      Obama has made consessions over this, but it is now being used
      as a political football by the Republican/Christians.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Advertisement
About this blog

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.