Skip to comments.Democrats Alarmed Over USCCB Pressure on Obama over Contraceptive Coverage
Posted on 11/21/2011 2:05:40 PM PST by NYer
As I reported last week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has launched a campaign to expand the concept of "religious liberty," a move intended in part to exempt Catholic and other religious organizations from legal requirements, or, put another way, to permit Catholic organizations to discriminate based on religious belief.
One key example of late is the USCCB's complaint that the Department of Health and Human Services' refusal to grant it a contract to provide services to sex trafficking victims was a case of religious discrimination. USCCB will not refer sex trafficking victims for reproductive health services, a requirement of the contract.
In another pressing example, the USCCB is putting pressure on the White House to broaden the exemption that religious organizations have from the requirement under the Affordable Care Act that employer-provided health insurance cover contraceptives. Churches already are exempt, but the USCCB wants a broader exemption to protect the "consciences" of employers and employees. The New York Times reported this weekend that the mandate was a discussion topic when Obama met recently with the USCCB president, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who "said Mr. Obama was 'very open to the sensitivities of the Catholic community.'"
Democrats, not surprisingly, are alarmed that the Obama administration might back off a requirement approved by the HHS this past summer. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' approval of the requirement, though, was yet one more reason for religious right figures to target her as an enemy of religion. The columnist Michael Gerson reflected this view in his column about the sex trafficking contract, complaining that she is "an outspoken pro-choice Catholic" who "has a long history of conflict with Catholic authorities."
The prospect of an Obama administration cave-in on this issue is not just alarming because contraceptive coverage is a real health need that shouldn't be exempted from coverage because certain religions are opposed to it. It is nonsensical from a political standpoint. For one thing, although his recent pick to head up the Democratic National Committee's religious outreach for the 2012 campaign, the Rev. Derrick Harkins, is anti-choice, Harkins has been outspoken on reaching "common ground" on abortion, including making birth control available. (To be clear, though, the Bishops' invocation of the "religious liberty" issue could change the equation). But more crucially, as Laurie Goodstein reported in her piece about the Bishops' recent meeting in Baltimore, at which their new religious liberty initiative was announced, few Catholics seem to be informed on the specifics of the Bishops' positions on such matters. According to a recent study by Fordham University, only 16 percent of Catholics had even heard of the Bishops' election guide, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," and only 3 percent had even read it.
That 3 percent figure, incidentally, is roughly the same percentage of Catholics who follow the Bishops' position on reproductive matters and don't use contraceptives.
Obama needs to be attuned to the differences between listening to the concerns of Catholics and listening to the concerns of the Bishops.
CORRECTION: The original version of this post, due to jet lag, a hacking cough, and insufficient coffee, reversed the figure on birth control. Roughly three percent of American Catholics follow the Vatican teaching by not using birth control. Sorry for the brain freeze.
We need to continue to support our bishops with prayer...and fasting.
It is truly refreshing to see “evil” thinkers alarmed.
Its also truly refreshing to see the new attitude of the Bishops.
The social justice mumbo jumbo types are starting to lose control.
The author is evidently a brain-dead baby killer, but it’s good news if these people are starting to get worried.
If anyone thinks Obama feels any pressure whatesoever, they are kidding themselves.
Its also truly refreshing to see the new attitude of the Bishops.
I will believe it when Nancy Pelosi is publicly excommunicated and priests and Eucharistic ministers are ordered not to give communion to her.
The USCCB does not refer anyone for anything. Too bad the author is such a slob as to make the above statement. If they were in the referral business, the USCCB would certainly refer people to get reproductive help. Just not get them help in killing their children.
The bishops should announce the excommunication of all pro-gay marriage and pro-abortion pols.
That should shake them up.
At the risk of sounding pejorative, Madam Posner is apparently dain-bramaged. Throughout the article inaccuracies are sprinkled. On the whole, though, if indeed democrats were/are “worried,” good. But who doubts that the obama administration and the HHS will continue their conniving? Mr. Gerson, respectfully has misspoken. Ms. Sebelius is not Catholic if she is “pro-choice.” And the 3 percent figure must have been pulled from the author’s coffee cup. What a load of hooey.
In all honesty, I do find it unlikely that Obama and company will bend or break with their chosen path. To them, ultimately we’re in the way more than we’re desired votes. If he perceives that he has his much-wanted chance to reshape society as he and the rest of his ilk see fit, they will not balk greatly. There may be sops for a few, “pro-choice” folks, to use as fodder in election campaigns, but nothing more substantial than that.
Barry the Arrogant may well not react rolling something back, but by doing even more that he is sure will offend the Bishops and all true Catholics. The democrat party, well some members of the democrat party, may still think they have a rational democrat president in office but most folks in DC know better. That’s where the, “Barry do an LBJ” movement is coming from, the people who run the party have finally realized what some of us have known all along.
I will never understand how people who are otherwise totally relativistic in their beliefs about morality (and who regard our whole existence as simply a gigantic meaningless coincidence) act as if “thou shalt not discriminate” were carved on a metaphysical pillar somewhere outside the universe. Why should “thou shalt not discriminate” remain standing when all other moral laws have been reduced to rubble?
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The USCCB has to staopm thinking that it can act as a typical lobby, fire its political staff and leave the lobbying to lay Catholics who don’t think they are clerics in mufti.
At least the Bishops are doing something here!
I wonder how “alarmed” they would have to get before they just started dropping dead.
“Why should thou shalt not discriminate remain standing when all other moral laws have been reduced to rubble?”
I think Geert Wilder nailed it: “Multiculturalism made us tolerate the intolerant, and now intolerance is annihilating tolerance.”
Thou shalt not discriminate is just one more round in the attack on Western Civilization.
She doesn’t see the slightest bit of problem in forcing colleges run by monks to pay for contraceptives for unmarried students?