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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. Greg H

    I'm getting very tired of the Catholic church blaming the Federal government for their (the church's) inability to keep their flock in line with respect to the use of contraceptives. Next thing, the Catholic church will demand that the government consult the Pope on all issues. Whatever happened to the separation of church and state?

    June 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Ken in MD

      Which is why a poll showed that 97% of Catholic women admit to having used birth control. The other 3% were either lying or have a brood of a dozen kids.

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

      "Whatever happened to seperation of church and state?"

      Thats the point. The government is forcing Catholic insitutions to provide contraceptives. These contraceptives are against their beliefs. Therefore, the government should not be able to force them on the Catholic church.

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

      Ugh, TF, no one is forcing anyone to provide contraceptives, and you know it. The way you've chosen your phrasing shows you either have no idea what's really going on, or you're just buying the party line.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • See Forever Eye

      I D I O T +++++++++++++++++++++++

      Thats the point. The government is forcing Catholic insitutions to provide contraceptives.......
      WRONG.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  2. Aroz

    News Flash: Vatican joins forces with Westboro Baptist Church.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  3. Oz in OK

    And there we have it, ladies and gentlemen! Compromise from the Religious Reich? Nope – just constantly 'moving the goalposts' so it's less and less about compromise and more and more about how much they can demand and get away with. All the more reason to re-elect President Obama!

    June 18, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Shadowflash1522

      Politics is about everything, but everything is not about politics.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • FLIndependent

      That's right – give them an inch and they'll take a foot. The Religious Right is chipping away at our freedoms folks – WAKE UP before it's too late!

      June 18, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  4. Patrick Lewis

    If churches continue to erode the line between government and religion, they should be prepared to pay taxes. I've had a life time of this BS ever since Regan and I'm ready to have these guys put up or shut up. If you don't want your people to take contraceptives, CONVINCE THEM NOT TO TAKE CONTRACEPTIVES. Don't argue for some legal special privilege, you have GOD ON YOUR SIDE! CAN'T GOD HELP YOU FORM A CONVINCING ARGUMENT AMONG YOUR EMPLOYEES?

    June 18, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      How about if we don't want our people to take them we just don't buy them? Is that ok with you?

      June 18, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  5. kamarasune

    Well that gonna be a little conflicting with the Texas Latino community.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  6. Jesus Christ

    You run on change, they elect you You give them change or solutions to problems that other before kicked down the road and now they hate you.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Patrick Lewis

      Yeah, one might say Obama has been sold out to be crucified. Oh... Sorry... I – I guess that's probably still a sore subject for you, man. Sorry.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • FLIndependent

      Isn't that the truth. I've wondered about this myself – what change did these people expect? I think President Obama has provided the changes we needed but people are just too color blind to see.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  7. Ken in MD

    The Catholic Church (of which I used to be a member) has always treated women as 2nd class citizens. Why should we expect that to change?

    June 18, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • catholic turned athiest

      I completely agree.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Tom Watts

      2nd class would be an improvement. Thank yur lucky stars it aint Islam. Women their are lower than goats,

      June 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • edpeters101

      Also a 'once upon a time' Catholic, I couldn't agree more. You would think that in the twenty-first century the old men of the church (and it'snot just Catholics) would mature and open their eyes to the world we now live in. But then again, they are surely looking for the "Almighty Dollar", and women just aren't there yet!

      June 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • catholic turned athiest

      Yes it would be nice if these old men, referring to the Catholic leaders would open their eyes to the 21st century. But let us not forget, these men live in the 12th century, and they are perfectly content with that.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      What would that look like to you?

      June 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • catholic turned athiest

      The sheer refusal of them to adapt to the times. I.e., priests getting married, women becoming priests, to adapt to a changing world. The refusal to acknowledge any and most of scientific discovery with regard to creation, and the list can go on.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  8. mario

    Its sad but the Catholic Church has become a VERY RICH Business NOT a Religion any more

    June 18, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  9. palintwit

    During the last 3 or 4 years I have found that most people associate Sarah Palin with fecal matter.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  10. Barney3415969

    The Catholic Bishops are small people and an embarrassment to any thinking person. Remember, these are the people who said it was a sin to eat meat on Friday.

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

      If the Catholic Church needs to inject it's religious tenants into it's business practices they should be allowed to. But first, they should give up their tax exempt status. Their position strives to preserve their faith positions within their business practices and that violates separation of church and state.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • cnnmembuh

      They never said it was a sin. It is a discipline that is voluntarily observed.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Barney doesn't have to be correct. He just has to be opinionated

      June 18, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  11. MaxNatoma

    Since most polls indicate that the overwhelming majority of American Catholics have no problem with birth control, I doubt this will have any measurable impact on how individual Catholics vote.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  12. sally

    A BUSINESS cannot have religious liberties and freedoms- INDIVIDUALS can. The Catholics want to suppress the INDIVIDUAL LIBERTIES of the INDIVIDUALS that work for them.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • DRRR

      Nobody is suppressing individual liberties...if people want contraceptives..pay for it!

      June 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  13. Not All Docs Play Golf

    I wish Noah would build another mythical ark 300 cubits by 90 cubits and load every Catholic, 2 by 2, onto it, and just sail off.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  14. DaveinIL

    You read the recent comments here and you realize how moronic many liberals are.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      And if we continue to read your posts, we'll see the genius in them?

      June 18, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • DaveinIL

      @Not All Docs Play Golf
      Maybe. At least I won't make any gratuitous remarks denigrating a religion for its beliefs.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • sam stone

      Apparently, you are one of those Morton Downey Jr. wannabes who associate everyone who disagrees with you as a liberal.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • DaveinIL

      @sam stone
      Maybe I should ascribe the more assine comments to atheists who can't tolerate any religious beliefs.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • annony

      Ah, the "respect the faith" canard. You'd never criticize bin Laden, correct?

      June 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • edpeters101

      to: DaveinIL
      @Not All Docs Play Golf
      Maybe. At least I won't make any gratuitous remarks denigrating a religion for its beliefs.

      This is not about religion or the church and their beliefs (as screwed up as they are); it is about businesses that use religion to downgrade workers!

      June 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Steve

      This is an interesting subject very much to the core of this countries laws and practices. Post on!

      June 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Shadowflash1522

      Have you happened to read any of our dear friend HeavenSent's postings? They are quite discourteous and inhospitable.

      Pots and kettles both make lots of noise, but only when not serving their purpose.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  15. Alex Lewin, please post as Boomer4

    People can choose whether to use birth control. That choice is private, whether based on personal religious beiefs or practicality. Theologically, the term "Free Will" applies. The Catholic Church, for its' own reasons, attempts to control, rather than influence the behavior of individuals, adn in this case, groups. The Churchs' intent to exert control interferes with free will, with individual concience, with livberty and with democracy. The Taliban and the Catholic Church both try to control the actions of all people in their realm, not jsut believers in their particular brand oif religion. This is the USA, a land built on individual rights. Let's keep it that way.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      The Church doesn't control, it teaches. People who reject the teaching are exercising free will. Governments who mandate the violation of religious belief are fascist.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  16. Tom Watts

    RC morality is derived from a 1st century shelf installer, who claims his progenitor made the universe. And thus women cannot have contraception. Yeah, that makes good sense....NOT.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  17. Not All Docs Play Golf

    I went to 8 years of Catholic grade school, 4 years of all-boys Catholic high school, and 4 years of Catholic college. After learning about the history of the Catholic church, and it's doctrines force-fed to me for so many years, and after majoring in science, and after my brain matured, I have come to completely reject the backward, bronze age Catholic church and it's screwed up social doctrines (all while their priests abused boys). My only regret is that I supporteded it for so many years.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Tom Watts

      Welcome to the fresh air of religion free life.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Janine from TX

      You're not alone; yes, education changes lives as it should.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      What you mean after all that indoctrination and brainwashing you emerged as a well trained, highly paid, individual with a mind of your own? Those evil Catholics!

      June 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • catholic turned athiest

      Welcome to the world as being a free thinker. Science offers explantions as opposed to the "God did it, and that is how it is argument." I have no problem with people being athiestic, or a believer. But keep relion out of politics, as the founding fathers intended, yes intended. Even though he is a moot point now, and will benothing more than a political foot note, but Rick Santorum wanted to use religion and his Catholic uprbinging to govern a nation. How is that any different that the government telling the church what to do?

      June 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  18. SkyKing

    All the more reason to re-elect President Obama.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Jane2u

      Agreed. As a non-American, I am surprised at how third world the most developed country in the world can act sometimes..

      June 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  19. Allan

    They want people to have more BOYS so that they can abuse them!! Bunch of hypocrites!!

    June 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  20. Uncle Bob

    Why is America held hostage by a religion that eats human flesh and drinks human blood?

    June 18, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • enough already

      why is america held hostage for this illegal health care fiasco??

      June 18, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Tom Watts

      Better than held hostage by grossly rich speculators and gamblers whose losses are made good by the taxpayer. Oh wait....

      June 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Granna

      WHAT!! Uncle Bob?!!!! Why don't you educate yourself on the Catholic faith before accusing that they eat human flesh and blood. That is an absolutly ridiculous comment.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Tom Watts

      At Granna. I listened to a talk on Sacred Heart radio last weekend and for 20 mins they explained how in fact you DO drink human blood and human flesh (shelf date -2000yrs) Has something to do with the inner essence where the wine/wafers DO alter their atomic composition to become the blood of JC. ( I thought it was Comedy Central for a while)

      June 18, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Shadowflash1522

      Incidentally, the RCC did some serious backpedaling on that one when they retranslated the whole Mass a couple years back. Now the term is 'consubstantial', meaning that it is both bread/flesh and wine/blood at the same time...they finally admitted that there is no miraculous molecular restructuring when you say the magic words. It's a weak argument, but you can still chalk up another victory for reason.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • See Forever Eye

      *** Granna

      WHAT!! Uncle Bob?!!!! Why don't you educate yourself on the Catholic faith before accusing that they eat human flesh and blood. That is an absolutly ridiculous comment.
      -----------------------------------------------------–
      You kneel in front of the priest and drink the wine (blood of Jesus)
      and take the "host" (body of Jesus)............ritual canabilism....

      You ever been to church ?

      June 18, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Shadowflash1522 is mistaken. Consubstantial refers to the condition of Christ and God as co-existing or one-in-being. The Church still holds as an article of faith the miracle of transubstantiation wherein the Eucharist becomes the body and blood of Christ for our spiritual consumption and nourishment.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Shadowflash1522

      Bill,
      Technically the Latin is gender neutral when making the proclamation "This is the body...", making the "this" ambiguous. If it were referring to the bread becoming the body, it would be gendered masculine. I asked my local Catholic priest for clarification, and he gave me pretty much the definition of consubstantiation. It matters not to me, they can translate as they see fit.

      Consubstantiation is (or used to be) the Protestant version of Transubstantiation, which was one of the roots of the second Great Schism. The RCC recently co-opted the term for use in the Nicene Creed.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:27 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.