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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. Brian

    We need to exterminate all gays and athiest and make this country great like how it was back in the days without these dooushbags.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • tony

      Is that just the one atheist? All babies are atheists by the way. So maybe you're suggesting killing all newborns???

      June 18, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • DK

      How about we exterminate all humans with IQs lower than 10 ... buh bye, Brian!

      June 18, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Paul

      Jesus? Is that you?

      June 18, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • TC

      Yes, killing people has brought about peace and harmony. In case you folks on here don't understand something – killing is wrong all the time – period. This also includes your unborn.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • GitOutNow

      That was before you were born. Exterminate you as one of the causes of the problem.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • just sayin

      Unborn is not a person silly

      June 18, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  2. Daniel

    Any church that tax exempt it absolutely ridiculous. This country is falling farther and farther down the crapper everyday.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  3. Bootyfunk

    way to stay in the dark ages, catholics!

    June 18, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • TC

      Dark ages were caused by athiest Vikings – your point?

      June 18, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Vikings weren't atheists and they didn't cause the Dark Ages. Man, you are an idiot.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  4. TC

    And why should any organization or company pay for the contraception? God forbid the governemnt expect people to pay fo rthings themselves especially a decision as so personal as contraception. And the language "free"? Sure, profit companies will do it for free – umm its called pasing on the costs to other consumers.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  5. Recovering Catholic

    yet another reason to prefer Obama over the depraved CAtholic Church and its medieval mindset.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • TC

      Keep following Obama and ignoring the church. It would be very interesting to see what your life is like10 years from now. Anti catholic and an Obama supporter – whew, scary stuff.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Kat

      Yet another reason to support someone else for president who restricts religious freedom - which this country was founded on.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  6. Sagebrush Shorty

    Obama is careful not to offend one certain religion. That religion is not Catholicism.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Frank

      He coddles ISLAM. The cult of DEATH.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • tony

      You find drone strikes inoffensive???

      June 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  7. Reality

    Some nitty-gritty:

    "Twenty-one states offer exemptions from contraceptive coverage, usually for religious reasons, for insurers or employers in their policies: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan (administrative rule), Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas and West Virginia."

    http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/insurance-coverage-for-contraception-state-laws.aspx

    Next:

    The Catholic hierachy do not believe in artificial birth control so why do they employ those who do? Did not the Supreme Court recently decide that religious organizations have the right to decide who they hire and fire? Bottom line: To reduce health insurance costs and to not be subject to Obama care regulations about supplying contraceptives, Catholic groups should simply not hire those who want contraceptives and fire those who demand such coverage.

    Next:

    There are different opinions as to what a religion really is or what a non-profit is and therefore all non-profits should file Form 990's. At the moment, religious groups are exempt. To be fair therefore, there should be no tax-exemptions for any group and that includes the Democratic and Republican Parties. Faith and community initiative grant monies should also be cancelled and there should also be no tax deductions for contributions made to charities and non-profits.

    Next:

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/01/supreme-court-backs-church-in-landmark-religious-liberty-case/

    "The government must stay out of hiring and firing decisions by a religious organization, even if a minister sues for employment discrimination, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.

    Religious freedom groups praised the decision, and especially the fact that it came from a unanimous court."

    June 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • chill

      I don't think that ruling applies when the religious organization is running a business other than a house of worship.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  8. cg10

    The two camps need to listen and come together on the areas of contention and solve this problem where everyone can be happy and with better understanding. Talking at each other means nobody is listening...

    June 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Dan

      Obama made a compromise, which the Catholic Health Organization found acceptable until just today, probably because the Vatican pressured them. Most Catholic women already use birth control, btw.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  9. chill

    Sounds like the CHA got rolled.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  10. TC

    Most of the people commenting on here are not Catholic or even a member of the faithful. Interesting how atheists worry so much about what doesn't even impact them.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Dan

      It DOES impact us!!! What if I get a job at a Catholic hospital or university?

      June 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • chill

      It impacts them if they work at an affiliated hospital or university.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Dan, then your health plan will not cover contraception or abortion. You, however, are free to obtain them on the free market.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • TC

      Don't work for them or here is a great idea – pay for your own contraceotion.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • tony

      Lobbying politicians (illegally actually) affects us all.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Dan

      Sorry Bill Deacon, but we have this thing called rule of law in this country. Businesses don't just get to make up new laws and exemptions.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  11. tony

    I love my collection plate and IT LOVES ME!!! The Bible says so.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  12. Reality

    Condoms are available over the counter. Make the Pill (type dependent on a doctor’s evaluation) available over the counter and there will be no more debate. Planned Parenthood can offer deep discounts for those who say they cannot afford said protection.

    Or better yet, put a pack of condoms. Unfortunately, that would not ensure the condoms and/or Pills would be used. Based on Guttmacher Insti-tute data, said condoms and/or Pills are currently not being used as they should. (one million abortions/yr and 19 million cases of S-TDs/yr because either the daily Pill was not taken or a condom stayed in the pocket.)

    Condom-fitted briefs for men?? Hmmm?

    The door is open for other ideas!!!

    June 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Condom fitted briefs? You are an idiot.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Reality

      We await other ideas. Please note that many high school se-x classes teach using a rubber or plastic sheet if a condom is not available.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  13. TOOBAD S. SAD

    Great! The Catholic Health Association finally woke up. Stick to your principles and stop trying to play politics. Obama is never going to be friendly toward the Catholic church and the sooner true Catholics in this country realize, the better. Obama is just plain anti-Catholic. Actions speak louder than any words.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Dan

      So the Catholic Church cares more about se x than about social justice is what you're saying

      June 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Ricky

      The sooner Catholics realize they need to stay out of our government the better. If you don't like the separation of church and state, move to a catholic country! The pope is not an elected official, he is not even American!

      June 18, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • cg10

      The Catholic Church leaders should not let there judgement be isolated to one issue, the greater good is still priority one. Supporting someone who believes in making life better for the 99% so that abortions and pills will become less used because people will have more hope in this world. Spread the greater hope! That's what you are called to do!

      June 18, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  14. Scot

    The church is a corpoation and it needs all their "employees " to tow the line.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Sagebrush Shorty

      Toe.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  15. Faithful

    Religious Tyranny at its most pathetic.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  16. Bob

    Time for the Catholic Idolators to stop meddling in our elections.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  17. roadrunner2

    i am catholic and this whole anti-religious freedom thing is garbage. how much federal dollars go to catholic universities via student grants? I would say quite a few. If the church wants to not follow federal guidelines for employers (yes, they are an employer, not just a church), they should REFUSE all federal money, period.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Dan

      Thank you! I find that most "everyday Catholics" are actually very reasonable on this issue, it's just the old, powerful men in the hierarchy that cause problems

      June 18, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  18. Terrance Kozak

    As a proud 52-year-old Canadian who has enjoyed American politics since I was 14, never in my life have I seen a group so adamant about controlling its people as the Democratic Party under Obama's leadership. I respect the fact that many here are strong Democrat supporters, so I must presume you are simply blinded by party loyalty. Has there ever been a "leader" so intent on separating your country as Obama? The good news is there's now enough of the independent voters that, come November, this one-trick pony will be exiled. Two years from now, when your economy is back running much healthier than it has been in a long time, you'll be grateful that Obaba was more intent on his own fundraising interests and personal agenda than being an actual president.

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

      I reject your premise, no Canadians are this stupid

      June 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Bob

      Foolish premise, ridiculous statements.

      So, tell me, Catholic, do you still support the Pedophoile Priests with your donations?

      You are a hypocrite and a liar.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • roadrunner2

      its NOT about control. Its about obligations of being an employer. if they don't want to play by the rules, they should forego all Federal money.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      road runner, Should they stop providing the services those monies pay for too?

      June 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • JBSToxinMD Sullivan

      As a Catholic Physician, I am opposed to th Church controlling health care of women based on mythical theology. Obama has done a great job with the economy and his success is the best for private jobs in 20 years of past recessions. Facts are easy for conservatives to ignore.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Mick

      I honestly had to laugh at your comment "never in my life have I seen a group so adamant about controlling its people as the Democratic Party under Obama's leadership". There is no organization in need of CONTROLLING others than the catholic church. This is an evil organization that really has no concern for the "Character of christ" but whose sole purpose is to control the masses with fear and intimidation. They are money hungry and filled with lies and deceit. YOU NEED TO WAKE UP and stop worshiping these pedophiles in dresses.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  19. Holier Than Thou Much?

    Good riddance!

    June 18, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  20. IMD

    It is sad. The Catholics Church and more specifically the nuns were the founders of many of our nations churches. Now that have become multi-billion dollar corporations who are dictating health care policy for all Americans; certainly there employees, whether Catholic or not.
    The simple answer is that all churches, hospitals and the like take federal money and should follow all federal rules. They also should be stripped of their tax exempts status. They stopped being non-profits, a long time ago.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      So you are for the destruction of America then?

      June 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • TC

      The churches are tax exempt and do not recieve federal funding unless they directly support a federally mandated program. Hospitals are not tax exempt in most lines of accounting. Religious beleifs should never be subject to federal laws – if they were then we would all enjoy a Soviet environment. No thanks.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:15 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.