Feature: Election 2012

Birth Control: Why Catholic Bishops Have Lost Their Clout In US Politics

Author: Samuel Omwenga
Published: February 15, 2012 at 5:57 am

According to New York Times, the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has rejected a compromise on birth control coverage that President Obama offered on Friday and said they would continue to “fight the president’s plan” which is intended to find a way for employees of Catholic hospitals, universities and service agencies to receive free contraceptive coverage in their health insurance plans, without the Catholic Church’s direct involvement or financing

The Conference— which has led the opposition to the plan — said in a statement that the solution offered by the White House to quell a political furor was “unacceptable and must be corrected” because it still infringed on the religious liberty and conscience of Catholics.

Administration officials said the White House had never expected to get the bishops’ support, given their absolute opposition to contraception.

The reaction to the initial announcement of the rule by the White House, it’s “accommodation”—as they prefer to call the modification and the Bishops rebuttal has been predictable but what’s really going on is only but now slowly emerging.

Judging from the cries of outrage coming from the Catholic hierarchy, “you'd think President Obama had shut down Catholic churches, defrocked all priests, sent nuns back to Ireland, and dropped an atomic bomb on the Vatican,” declared Bill Press, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, adding, "[o]n every cable news or talk radio show, Obama is accused of trampling on the First Amendment, declaring war on religion, destroying religious freedom and, of course, Catholic-bashing.”

This, Press concludes, is nonsense because what the Obama Administration did on January 20, 2012 was it issued a new rule that insurance policies, as part of their basic package, must offer contraceptive services with no deductible or co-pay.

An exception was made for 335,000 churches, missions, or other places of worship where all employees were Catholic or members of any religion which opposed contraception as a matter of faith.

The rule as now modified does not require Catholic hospitals or clinics to provide birth control pills or devices. It does not force Catholics to practice contraception. It does not interfere with anyone's religion. It does not prevent priests and bishops from continuing their appalling medieval and widely ignored attempts to convince Catholics that contraception is sinful. “It simply says that there can no longer be two kinds of health insurance policies: those that cover contraception and those that don't,” says Press, echoing what the White House has been saying about the rule.

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Article Author: Samuel Omwenga

Originally from Kenya, I am an attorney by training and obtained my law degree from the prestigious Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey in 1997. Prior to that, I attended University of Maryland, College Park, as a returning student and graduated in 1994 with a B.A. …

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