The President Breaks It to Them Gently
President Barack Obama “personally” broke the news to two influential Catholic leaders (New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Sister Carol Keehan, “a pivotal supporter” of the Affordable Care Act) that his health care law would require Catholic hospitals and universities to provide contraception in their employee health plans, Politico reported.
Catholic Bishops Object
“Bishops and lay Catholic leaders across the United States have made it clear that we cannot comply with this unjust law without compromising our convictions and undermining the Catholic identity of many of our service ministries,” said ArchBishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, according to according to the National Catholic Register.
Who Speaks for Rank-and-File Catholics?
“It is crucial in this dispute to distinguish between the Catholic hierarchy and rank-and-file Catholics,” said Stephen Prothero at CNN. “Are the only ‘real Catholics’ in America the priests decrying the new Obama administration policy and the 2% of U.S. Catholic women who rely only on ‘natural’ birth control? Who is to speak for the other 98%?” he asked.
A ‘Courageous Decision’
“I am going to stick with my fellow Catholics in supporting the administration on this. I think it was a very courageous decision that they made, and I support it,” said House Minoirity Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) when questioned by CNSNews.com
‘Obama Threw Progressive Catholics Under the Bus’
“Obama threw his progressive Catholic allies under the bus and strengthened the hand of those inside the Church who had originally sought to derail the health-care law,” said Catholic Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr.
Romney Pounces; Gets Pounced Upon
Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney accused the president of ordering ‘religious organizations to violate their conscience,’ but once took a similar step, The Boston Globe reported.
The White House Stands Firm
“There was extensive and careful consideration as this policy was developed and a decision was made. And the issue here is we want to be sure women, all women, have access to good health care,” White House spokesman Jay Carneywhen the issue started to heat up.
What Qualifies as a Religious Institution?
Associated Press reporter Rachel Zoll said the decision “raises a complex and sensitive legal question: Which institutions qualify as religious and can be exempt from the mandate?”
“For a church, mosque or synagogue, the answer is mostly straightforward. But for the massive network of religious-run social service agencies there is no simple solution,” said Zoll.
Evangelicals and Catholics Together Again
‘Paying for the Privilege of Violating One’s Conscience’
“There would have been no controversy at all if President Obama had simply exempted religious institutions and ministries. But the administration insisted that the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s Hospital be forced to pay for the privilege of violating their convictions. Obama chose to substantially burden a religious belief, by the most intrusive means, for a less-than-compelling state purpose — a marginal increase in access to contraceptives that are easily available elsewhere,” said Former George H.W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson in his syndicated column.
What Do You Think
Should there be a conscience clause in federal health care law?