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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. California

    mike – YOU'RE. Come back when you learn how to spell little boy.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • mike

      congratulations, you can identify grammer. too bad you cannot do the same for argument.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  2. tony

    God is love. Tsunamis are God's loving contraception.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  3. Natasha

    There are all kinds of people in world. No matter the race,creed, or lifestyle in the end there's only one judge. Guess what, your not him. He has provided information(BIBLE) to guide us not to be judge and jury in the moral nature of human. You too have a spake in your eye. Regardless if you disagree with the law it is not your right to abolish it for someone else having a choice. This is not a crime, it is a human right (woman's right) to make decisions for self in this world, end of story. The Catholic's have their own demons to deal with regarding kids. Martin Luther was no a mistake in speaking on the what he believe. Read a little or take it up with the one who created, last time I check man didn't create a man, God the judge of all and then some.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  4. Aristocles

    So, if the Bishops, Priests, Lay Organizations (like the Knights of Columbus), Television Networks (like EWTN) and the Catholic Health Association don't represent Catholics, who does?

    June 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  5. CARLFLOW

    I don't believe that the CHA speaks for the majority of Church members, nor does it represent the true beliefs of it's members. The majority of the congregation are of a different era, centuries beyond the Draconian positions taken by the leadership.

    This may very well be the time when the church leaders get a clear picture of why their ranks are dwindling.

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

      Dwindling? Our numbers have grown every year since World War 2, with over 1.2 billion followers. The only Catholic shrinking is occurring in areas that are already shrinking due to out-migration and sub-replacement fertility.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • whatajoke

      Top Ten Signs You're a Christian in Name Only
      10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
      9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
      8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
      7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Al lah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!
      6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
      5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
      4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs – though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
      3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some id iot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.
      2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.
      1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • matthew

      What has been Church Doctrine for centuries cannot be change just because ignorant outsiders who are not Catholics want everybody to be politically correct! Abortion is still killing an unborn - don't tell me that women have a right to choose, what about the fetus' right to be born? You ignorant liberals only think of the woman but ignore the child!

      June 18, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • bias bias everywhere and not a truth to speak

      top 10 reasons you know it's time to get a job... you have time to come up with top 10 lists midday on a monday! get a job liberal troll!

      June 18, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • .

      "top 10 reasons you know it's time to get a job... you have time to come up with top 10 lists midday on a monday! get a job liberal troll!"

      That's why you've been on here relentlessly because you don't have a job.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  6. Jill

    More than 90% of Catholics use birth control so how can they call themselves Catholic?

    June 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Yeah they should kick out all Catholics who use birth control. That will stop the flow of money to pay for the pedophile defense fund.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Nick

      I bet 100% of catholics have lied to; I don't think religion is supposed to change the rules once enough people break them . . .

      June 18, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • bias bias everywhere and not a truth to speak

      because catholic doesn't mean zombie. if anything, the catholic church has the most forgiving theology of all religions. if you are a child of god, then god doesn't turn his back on you for breaking with the church. just like you don't kick out your 13 year old kid for getting in trouble at school. it's not complicated unless you're simple-minded

      June 18, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  7. ralpher

    The debate over birth control is from the middle half of last century, not this century.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  8. ralpher

    Yes, because life is better when the company you work for decides what medical treatment you can receive, even if they are separate from the insurer.
    Republicans, you decry government interference in people's lives, why are you okay with companies infringing on freedom?

    June 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • A Catholic

      Because you are free to choose employment elsewhere.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  9. bias bias everywhere and not a truth to speak

    there's a lot of anti-catholic speak on here. if it were anti-semetic cnn would have already shut down the comment board but catholic bashing is as old as baseball... america's #2 past time. well troll all you want, you can't have our votes and without that, president kardashian is toast!

    June 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Dan

      There is a difference between bashing a group of people and bashing an out-of-touch patriarchy

      June 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • El Matador

      Most Catholics I know will still vote for Obama. I mean, has anyone come out and said Catholics we need to vote for a Mormon? Seriously?

      June 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      There is a difference. You don't choose to be a person of Jewish descent. You do, however, choose to be Catholic.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  10. cg10

    Atheist can't handle the truth! Meanwhile, the truth is all around them. We didn't and everything else didn't magically appear... Think for once.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Answer

      Let's equate ..

      Your delusion of creationism is based solely on magic. You should review your dialogue with that in mind.

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

      I like President Obama. I like his ideas and I blame the Republican Senate and then the Republican House & Senate for not passing bills he supported. The GOP stopped him from doing anything - regardless of whether they thought it was right for the country. I wouldn't vote for a Republican if you paid me a million bucks. If Romney is elected I'm afraid we'll lose our social security and medicare. Most of us are not going to make it without those programs.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  11. A Catholic

    You can't be in favor of contraception and be a catholic. Pure and simple.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Huebert

      Then why be catholic?

      June 18, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Dan

      Are you sayign most Catholic women aren't Catholic? That's known as the "no true Scotsman" fallacy

      June 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • El Matador

      Yep. Also if you don't believe that there were 2 of every animal put on a boat you can't believe it's not butter. What?

      June 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • A Catholic

      Right, if a catholic woman uses contraception she has taken herself out of communion with the Catholic church. And it is not a fallacy. The Vatican decides who is or is not a Catholic.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Krumblebum

      Yes you can.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Dan

      False. There is nothing stopping anyone from self-identifying as a Catholic. You might argue that it wouldn't be a valid identification, but then again that is a subjective judgement

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

      you can't be a catholic and be a christian.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • A Catholic

      You can self-identify all you want but it has no basis in reality. I can self-identify myself as a person from Mars but that doesn't make it true.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Jill

      Since the GOP seems to be all for this controversy, can you call yourself a member of the Republican party and also use birth control? Seems like way too much hypocrisy to go around.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Dan

      Right of course not. But religious identification isn't based on fact but on faith

      June 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • sam stone

      Well, bully for the vatican

      June 18, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • joAneeMN

      I go to a catholic church and even our devon whose been married for 40 years has only 2 kids separated by 4 years.... You mean t say he never used Condoms or any other form of contraception...

      June 18, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • NC88

      So, if you use contraceptives the Vatican will tell toss you out of the Church, however if you're a priest you can molest children and the Vatican is apparently fine with that.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      I agree. All Catholics who are using birth control should be forced to leave the church. Oops, there goes 90+% of your membership. It is going to be awful hard to keep the church running without all that sweet money pouring in from the collection plates.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • 70Generation

      Hahaha, your comment is funny. Religion does not mandate who is your Presidential candidate, that is silly.

      June 18, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  12. Descarado

    As Edmund Burke observed, all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Good Catholic men and women will vote not to renew Barack Obama's contract this Novemeber.

    We have seen enough.

    Obama is a man of scant accomplishment in the grown-up world and a man of boundless incompetence in the world of government.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • bias bias everywhere and not a truth to speak

      dale que to puede! lol. agreed btw

      June 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Gretchen

      I will! I"m voting for Obama and praying that we get enough Dems in Congress to let him actually accomplish something this term. Better than Romney destroying the middle class so that we can become slaves to the 1% - just like all the third world countries.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • bias bias everywhere and not a truth to speak

      poor gretchen is delusional eh? que mongolica! ...buahahahaha

      June 18, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  13. California

    All liberals are interested in is everyone elses money.

    The government has been too big for years now. "Too big to jail".

    June 18, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • mike

      boy, your an idiot. you mean wall street, no? i am tired of the fallacy that government is soley run by liberals. what about the 8 years of GW?

      June 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • California

      mike – Hussein is gone along with Obamacare. HE'S HISTORY.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Gretchen

      I am a lot more worried about the rich getting richer than I am about the poor getting a little something. The amount the rich get is HUGE. With that kind of money, they can take over everything. Wake up, Dummies!! Stop looking down at the welfare bunch and look up at the Wall Street rich who are taking it all and taking over!! Don't be stupid! Vote for Obama!

      June 18, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  14. Scott

    Why are Catholics so sad?

    Why must they always cry foul until they get their way?

    Why is it ok for them to m0lest children, but not to take medication?

    June 18, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Dan

      Not all the Catholics, just the ones trying to cling on to the last vestiges of their former power

      June 18, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • bias bias everywhere and not a truth to speak

      i don't know scotty boy... actually scott? scottish, irish descent? ...haven't most of these molesters been scotty's too?!

      June 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Obvious Guy

      Actually, I'm American with not a trace of Scotch-Irish in me.

      But one thing I don't do that Catholics do, is touch little boys.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  15. JD

    The priests have it right....just molest the boys.

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

      ...because they can't get pregnant.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  16. JD

    Besides the ridiculous idea that people have to use the contraception just because it's in the plan, I always think it's better for people to just keep making children that will end up in orphanages waiting to be adopted or not is as often the case. idiots.
    People should have to prove they can afford and take care of children before they can get pregnant.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Waiting

      As someone who is waiting to adopt a child, I am amused by your statement, JD, that children are waiting in orphanages for someone to adopt them. Perhaps you have not stopped to research adoption, since you yourself are in the throes of casting judgement and are productively busy calling people 'idiots'. On average a couple can expect to wait 20 months to be placed with a child. Abortion is mowing down our future generations and there are loving, willing couples waiting for the chance to take care of these children. Your fanciful orphanages are simply out of touch with reality.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  17. ruth

    He will never,ever get my vote!

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

      If Rush Limbaugh told you to jump off a bridge I'm sure you'd do that too

      June 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  18. Scott from Florida

    God came to me in a dream last night.

    He spoke to me

    He told me that everyones got it all wrong.

    Especially the Catholics.

    He specifically told me that he WANTS gays to marry.

    He specifically told me he WANTS abortions. And not just pro choice, but mandatory abortion.

    He specifically told me he WANTS women to have the choice to take medication.

    So I guess all of you who don't agree with me and God are wrong. Sorry.

    June 18, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Atheism is a religion

      God told you eh?

      "anyone who goes against God goes against the church(me)"

      Same old argument

      June 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • yes!

      He came to me and told me the same thing!!!
      Except he told me one other thing.
      He recommended we move all the religious folk to Mars because that is actually where the second coming will be! Luckily they are working on a space program to Mars. So, you better go sign up!!

      June 18, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Scott from Florida

      @Yes!

      He was about to tell me that information, but his cell phone went off and he said it was an important call.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • yes!

      Love it Scott 🙂 Good one! There a lot more young people with open eyes than ever..maybe someday religion will be irrelevant. We can only hope!

      June 18, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • bias bias everywhere and not a truth to speak

      lay off the bath salts man

      June 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  19. Tony

    It's not about contraception. It's about freedom. The government should not force coverage of ANY particular item upon people/insurers. If Obama can force companies to provide contraceptives, than Pres. Rick Santorum could force companies to provide free bibles to employees.

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

      Nope, because that would consti tute the establishment of a state religion

      June 18, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Fed up

      If the government does not have the right to force people to buy health insurance, then hospitals and doctors should have the right not to provide services to those that are uninsured! I am getting VERY tired of having to pay to higher health cost because people do not have insurance and do not pay their medical bills!

      June 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Dan

      Fed up is right. We already end up paying for the uninsured anyway. After all it's not like an emergency room doctor is just going to let someone die because they can't pay

      June 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  20. Larry

    I think the decision should be up to the individual workers insured under, for example, a Catholic Hospital. The insured individual employee should be able to decide whether or not he or she wants the coverage affored under the federal plan.

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

      Yes!

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

      No! Go work for another company or pay for it yourself.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • just sayin

      TC

      No! Go work for another company or pay for it yourself.
      .
      Interesting, you concern yourself with what other people do with themselves.

      June 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • mike

      ah larry, if only it were that easy. next time why don't you pay for your own lobotomy cause i certainly do not want to.
      if you enter the commercial marketplace, ie, a hospital or a motel or a restaurant for that matter, you have to serve all people not just the ones you like. (them catholics do like them young boys!!!!)

      June 18, 2012 at 3:47 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.