The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has made a decision about President Obama’s proposed compromise on the contraception mandate included in the Affordable Care Act. They’ve decided that they don’t want to compromise at all.
After more than a year of protests and lawsuits, the President came forward with a plan that would let religiously affiliated institutions like Catholic hospitals and universities file for an exemption of the contraception mandate. Insurance companies themselves would pick up the cost of birth control coverage for these institutions’ employees, because preventing unwanted pregnancy is normally a good thing for an insurance company’s bottom line. For the religious institutions themselves, they’ve already had a separate exemption where the government would pick up the tab for birth control coverage.
However, the Catholic Bishops don’t believe that Obama’s latest proposal goes far enough. They don’t want to compromise on the issue at all. Cardinal Timothy Dolan says that second exemption makes hospitals and schools “second-class citizens” in the religious organizational hierarchy. And that the new proposal still doesn’t address private business owners who
don’t want to pay extra money for anything are morally against the idea of providing contraception covered.
Dolan maintains, “We have been assured by the administration that we will not have to refer, pay for, or negotiate for the mandated coverage. We remain eager for the administration to fulfill that pledge.” His comments prove that the Bishops are not expecting to do anything themselves to help with this process. They’re just going to sit back and keep demanding that less and less people are forced to provide coverage for a medical necessity that 98% of women will use at some point in time during their childbearing years.
The problem with this whole idea of a birth control compromise is that only one side really wants the measure to succeed. President Obama wants every woman to be able to access birth control, if they should choose to use it. The Catholic hierarchy does not want any woman to use birth control. I’m not sure that these two sides will ever really agree, no matter who is paying for what and which institutions are exempted from such and such.
The fact is, the birth control mandate has overwhelming support. Modern women in our country know and understand how important contraceptive access is. Hopefully, President Obama can find a way to appease the religious institutions who are opposed to the mandate. But if he can’t, I’m more concerned with helping families than with any Bishop’s moral objections that he wants to force upon thousands of women.