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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. A Catholic

    The government has no right dictating a business to go against the conscience.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • sam

      A church operating as a business has no right to pick and choose what health options are available to anyone.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • mandarax

      The church has no right to skate by tax-free and then try to influence federal politics.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Dan

      That's such complete bull****. This is a society, and people don't get to do what they want all the time. I had to pay taxes for Bush's wars even though they violated my beliefs, why should Catholic businesses get a pass here?

      June 18, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • mandarax

      Dan, I could not agree more.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • A Catholic

      Government coercion of anyone – even a business – violates the First Amendment.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • A Catholic

      that should be government coercion to violate one's religious principles violates the 1st Amendment

      June 18, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Jen

      Totally agree mandarax and Dan. The Catholic Church just need to get out of business completely.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • mandarax

      A Catholic, so I guess that means it is okay to allow those Mormon fundamentalists to marry 12 year old girls?

      June 18, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Jen

      'needs' I mean

      Coercion A Catholic? Well government also coerces businesses to pay taxes (except the Church). Do you agree that they should not be allowed to do that? They regulate businesses to ensure that they don't destroy the environment and poison people. Do you agree the government should stop doing that?

      June 18, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Btlprod

      Yet businesses that are owned by Muslims, Amish and Mennonite are exempt from Obamacare.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  2. Dan

    What made them change their minds, I wonder? The Vatican really seems to be cracking down lately...

    June 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • sam

      All those rogue nuns got them fired up.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Doogie Browser

      I want to see the nuns kick some butt.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  3. carlyjanew6

    http://www.Hear-The-Truth.com

    June 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  4. me

    I saw the headline and thought one thing "who cares".....the Catholic faith, much like Republicans, will be obsolete if they don't step up to the people

    June 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • A Catholic

      People exist to serve God and not the other way around.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • mandarax

      I don't know – poor, rural Republicans are a perpetual example of how people can easily be convinced to fight against their own well-being.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  5. SokrMom

    Like the Catholic Church would allow any affiliated persons or organizations support President Obama ...

    June 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • FajitaBob

      ...and thank God for that, soccer mom.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Mary

      Lot of Catholics don't agree with the church on this one and may vote as per their individual beliefs.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  6. Sidprejean

    For 40 years, I never heard a priest deliver a Sunday sermon that even casually mentioned the "evil" of contraception.
    Now, all of a sudden, it's the central focus of the Catholic Church. Disregard all those executions in Texas and stuff...

    June 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Mass is a celebration of communion with usually a short homily delivered focusing on the scriptural liturgy. Surely you are not suggesting you've been a 40 year Catholic with no knowledge of the Church's stance on right to life?

      June 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      ...and the Church has looked the other way for centuries on the death sentence. Still does contend that it is a state issue, but wants it stopped.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • FajitaBob

      Sid: first, this is the focus of Obama and the lib media–they made a federal case out of it, andC NNis just falling all over themselves to stir you up about it.

      Second, if you haven't heard the Church's position on this, you haven't been listening.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Mary

      Church is only interested in fetuses. Once they become babies, they stop caring? List the Catholic organizations that tun orphanages, soup kitchens and homeless shelters here in US.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  7. MR Wonderful

    Pony up some tax dollars or keep it in church.
    Someone has to pay for these beings your forcing onto this planet and taxing religions would be a great place to start.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      No one is forcing people to have children they cannot support

      June 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Dan

      Bill Deacon, the fact is that there is a negative correlation between poverty and the availability of birth control. Catholic organizations should be ASHAMED of not supporting something that would increase standards of living all over the world.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • mandarax

      Bill, "forcing" may be a strong word, but when a group as powerful as the Catholic church convinces people it is a sin to use contraception and then when you do end up pregnant (because people do have sex ya know) it is a sin to do anything other than have a baby – all accompanied by threats of sin and hell and shame – then the consequences should be obvious.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Mary

      Agree totally. They claim tax-free rights but into politics every time which is against "the separation of church and state".

      June 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  8. Out Of Touch with reality

    well when you are obama and you want to be king obama this is what happens, OH I am king obama you wioll do as I say, you will stop the reproduction of all whites and my people who want me to be king obama will reign over you. I am king obama listen to me because I am king obama of the new amerika. This is what obama wants, why else would he lie, one minute an irish, the next amish, next white, next a brother next a gay, next is I want to be king obama, just remember kings get DETHRONED>

    June 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      You sound angry and a little unstable. Is everything OK at home?

      June 18, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Chris R

      You obviously chose your screen name with great care as it reflects your writings so well. I'm not sure if you understand this but local, state, and the federal government have been regulating the insurance industry for decades telling them what they must cover. This is why mental health services are now covered. This is why preventative care is now covered.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • wisewoman

      More than unstable – – down right crazy

      June 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Mary

      Listen Faux News much?

      June 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  9. Not All Docs Play Golf

    Science builds modern jet aircraft.
    Religion flies them into buildings.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  10. Mike

    Forcing churches to do something that goes against their beliefs only shows how hypocritical the left is. You liberals are always crying about the right forcing you to do things that you don't want to do. Now you feel your beliefs should be forced upon others.
    Don't you see the irony in this?
    If you want to live a life of debauchery in a drug induced state then go ahead. But stop telling others how they should live their lives.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Wow, Mike....didn't realize oral contraceptives produce a "drug-induced state."

      June 18, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Chris R

      This isn't about churches but *businesses* owned by churches being required to follow the same laws as everyone else.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • sam

      Oooh, debauchery. I can't believe you didn't trot out the tried and true 'fornication' to get your point across.

      You have no idea what is actually going on, do you.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Scout

      You mean how you just told the left what to do? This plan doesn't tell anyone what to do. It offers a much-needed service, but the Party of Bigots just won't have it because it doesn't actually help the wealthy.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Smarter than the Right will ever be

      You mean I can get high off of birth-control? Sign me up!!

      June 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • George Washington

      That's funny Mike. The drug induced state is rather legal...it's pushers are big drug companies and your friends at CVS and Walgreens. Just ask your addicted leader, Mr. Linbaugh.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Mary

      How does oral contraceptives induce "drug induced states"? May be from your "drug induced state" that you are in now?

      June 18, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • sane

      There is no irony. What you fail to see is the distinct difference between the two. One side wants to control your private actions that have no affect on others and the other side wants to control you to the degree your actions affect others. Mandating that the "choice" be available is not forcing anyone to do anything against their beliefs.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  11. mario

    The Catholic Church is a Billion Dollar business and all the small people make it what it is. The Bishop get to enjoy it with their Republican FRIEND

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

      Mario – the grand majority of Catholics are registered Democrats. They are very strong supporters of the candidate with the letter D to the right of their name.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Padraig, correct. Notice the bishops support of Obama's halting the deportation of some illegal immigrants. You can't really call the Catholic Church an arm of the Republican party, at least not and be honest

      June 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  12. Btlprod

    Greater than 90% of contraceptive use is for consensual activities between adults, in their own time. How is that the responsibility of the employer or even the insurance company?

    June 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      OK, then what about the remaining 10% where they are prescribed to treat medical conditions such as menorrhagia?

      June 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Chris R

      Because contraception improves the quality of life and reduces medical expenses. That's why.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • ShadesOfGray

      I see your point. However, from a money standpoint it makes perfect sense – it is far more expensive for an insurance company to cover a pregnancy (whether wanted or unwanted) than the contraception itself. If insurance covers contraception, it would logically reduce the number of pregnancies that insurance would have to cover, and thereby save cost. Those savings are then transferred back to the consumer (with a cheaper policy).

      June 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • wisewoman

      Did you know that most insurance plans cover viagra – – how is helping a male stay erect the business of insurance companies??

      June 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Btlprod

      @Doc Then it isn't contraceptive coverage anymore.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Btlprod

      @Shades, Pregnancy is also a choice. That shouldn't be covered by insurance either. Insurance is a risk management tool, to cover an unexpected financial loss. Pregnancy does not fit that definition.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  13. HeavenSent

    You want wisdom? Listen for God's voice. It brings tears to my eyes when I hear it.

    Amen.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Put the bong down.

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

      HEEEEAAVENSEEEEET, THIS IS GOD, OOOOOO, REMEMBER TO FEEEEEEED YOUR CAAAAAATS

      June 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  14. Realdeal

    I bet "Not All Docs Play Golf" is a podiatrist.....

    June 18, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Nope....Internal Medicine, board certified. And I'll bet your deal is not real.

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

      a FLEA.....worse than a podiatrist

      June 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Oh, so now we're name-calling based on specialty?

      June 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Do we really want our surgeon to rely on prayer?

      June 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Realdeal

      Yep. And because it is hilarious to watch a geeky FLEA get irritated.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • sam

      Boring troll is boring.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Realdeal

      never said anything about prayer....or that I am a surgeon. Just like irritating pseudointellectuals.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      Well, don't get on here and vent toward Internists just because you have congenital micropenis.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Realdeal

      ....never said anything about being a man.......keep going geek boy

      June 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • sam

      LOL

      June 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Krumblebum

      What's wrong with podiatrists? Why are podiatrists lworse than fleas? They have to go to medical school. My podiatrist is young and hot and performed life-changing surgery on my foot 2 years ago. Just wait until you have a foot problem. You won't be slamming podiatrists then!

      June 18, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  15. independent

    typo, sorry. injured hand. 'their'.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  16. independent

    It is there choice to self-insure, which they do to save money. They should provide comprehensive coverage or get out of the insurance business.

    June 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  17. jim

    I wonder what Obungle can give the Catholics to buy their votes. He already bought the Mexicans, and the blacks are his by default.

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

      Nothing, cause just like the Republicans, they say one thing and do another.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • IG88a

      'Obungle' That's funny. I haven't heard that one yet.

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

      Jim,
      I bet that next near, when you're in 4th grade, you can be even more clever!

      June 18, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • sam

      Later, we'll work on colors and shapes!

      June 18, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  18. mbarneysmith

    Two questions...Where would John Kennedy come down on this issue, being a Democrat and Catholic and all. And I don't care what religion you ad-hear too, but if Jesus/Muhammad/Buddha or whatever holy icon where to announce he or she is here on earth today, what religious leaders would embrace this person? Or would they condemn this person to be a heretic/lunatic?

    June 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  19. THEMAN

    Just keep taking their money and giving it to me. thank you BO

    June 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  20. snapestinks

    Religion kills.

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

      But fortunately it only kills those stupid enough to believe it.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • cobra129

      So do bullets, knives, Socialism, Marxism, Communism, cancer, poison..........what's your point.

      June 18, 2012 at 2:43 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.