- Man arrested in car bomb plot at Kansas airport
- Prison inmates take up ‘Knockout’ game, target female officers
- U.S. Army hails success with drone-shooting laser
- John Kerry: Israel-Palestinian peace deal paved for April
- India diplomat who touts women’s rights busted for $3 wage to nanny
- MSNBC host Ed Schultz paid $252K by unions in 2012-2013
- Korean War memorial ordered to take down Christian cross
- Billy Graham near death, ‘close to going home to be with the Lord’
- SeaTac, Wash.: City’s new $15 minimum wage heads to court
- Obama mulls support for Islamists in Syria, with conditions
Concession on birth control not sufficient, bishops say
Affiliates still not free of mandate
America's Catholic bishops on Thursday rejected President Obama's latest contraception mandate upon religiously affiliated hospitals, schools and charities, saying the rules still don't ensure that people won't be forced to pay for contraceptives to which they morally object.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said he appreciated the Health and Human Services Department's latest effort to try to work out a compromise that lets women obtain free birth control without religiously affiliated organizations having to pay for it. But Cardinal Dolan said it still doesn't treat religiously affiliated charities and other groups the same as churches and temples themselves.
"HHS offers what it calls an 'accommodation' rather than accepting the fact that these ministries are integral to our church and worthy of the same exemption as our Catholic churches," he said.
The administration's latest offer was an attempt to end a public and politically draining dispute for Mr. Obama with the nation's Catholic hierarchy, one that has spilled over into the courts. But finding a workable middle ground has been difficult for both sides.
Under Mr. Obama's health care law, most employers are required to provide health insurance that provide women with free contraceptive coverage, including sterilization and access to morning-after pills that some ethicists say amounts to abortion.
Houses of worship are exempt, but religiously affiliated employers, such as Catholic universities or hospitals, are not.
Last week, the Obama administration announced a long-awaited proposal that would have insurers or third-party administrators provide contraception coverage through separate policies without the religious nonprofits' involvement.
Health care officials said insurance providers would be reimbursed for the coverage through rebates on the user fees tied to participation in health care exchanges in the states, which will take effect next year under Mr. Obama's health care law. Plus, officials said, a reduction in pregnancies often makes the coverage cost-neutral. Progressive Catholic groups and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America praised the plan.
"Are we really at a point where everything the Obama administration touches makes the bishops take their marbles and go home?" said James Salt, executive director of Catholics United, accusing the bishops of "scoring political points for the far right."
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said it is "becoming clear that some people just will not rest until they have found a way to deny women access to birth control coverage."
But Cardinal Dolan said it is "still unclear how directly these separate policies would be funded by objecting ministries, and what precise role those ministries would have in arranging for these separate policies. Thus, there remains the possibility that ministries may yet be forced to fund and facilitate such morally illicit activities."
He also said the rules don't help devout workers at religiously affiliated organizations who cannot opt out of plans that offer contraceptive care.
The rules also don't apply to for-profit companies with owners whose religious or moral beliefs oppose the use of artificial contraceptives.
More than a dozen corporations have sued the Obama administration over the contraception mandate, saying it violates their right to religious freedom.
The owners of Hobby Lobby stores, the best-known company among the corporate plaintiffs, announced last month that they had figured out a way to delay the start of their insurance year, putting off massive penalties that were to kick in at the start of the year for refusing to provide free birth control.
Federal circuit courts have come down on both sides of the issue in preliminary rulings on whether to delay the mandate, a sign that the issue could be heading for the Supreme Court.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- In rare bipartisan move, Congress tackles long-standing Medicare issue
- White House improvises again on patchy Obamacare rollout
- Key Obamacare official: Last two months much harder than anyone hoped
- HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius calls for review of Obamacare rollout woes
- More than a quarter million sign up for Obamacare in November
Latest Blog Entries
- Calif.: Give 'gift of health' by pledging cash for the uninsured
- Tensions hit boiling point over Obamacare enrollment figures, error rates
- Young, uninsured adults vital to Obamacare are not keen on enrolling: New Harvard poll
- Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox will promote Obamacare at Mall of America
- HealthCare.gov employs a new look once again
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
- U.S. Army hails success with drone-shooting laser
- U.S. Navy-China showdown: Chinese try to halt U.S. cruiser in international waters
- 'Active shooter' injures two at Colo. school; gunman on the loose
- Obama birther theories float as Hawaii health director killed in crash
- Billy Graham near death, close to going home to be with the Lord
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Obamas call to close Vatican embassy is 'slap in the face' to Roman Catholics
- North Korea's official report on Jang Song Thaek
- House budget bargain faces Senate filibuster; Republicans line up to oppose
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Musings of a bilingual, agnostic, combat veteran and jewelry maker.
Topics will include politics, religion, race, culture, and anything else that needs to be discussed...
Our Choice: Individual responsibility and self-government or the abandonment of the American Revolution
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow