Friday, February 10, 2012

Obama Adopts New Compromise On Contraceptive Coverage; Opponents Say It Is Insufficient

As reported by CNN, President Obama today announced a compromise in the dispute over whether health insurance policies offered to employees by religiously affiliated institutions will need to cover contraceptive services. (See prior related posting.)  According to a Fact Sheet released by the White House, "if a woman works for religious employers with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide contraception coverage, but her insurance company will be required to offer contraceptive care free of charge." The Becket Fund quickly issued a press release calling the White House's new policy a "false compromise," explaining:
First, hundreds if not thousands of religious organizations self insure, meaning that they will still be forced to pay for these services in violation of their religious beliefs. Second, it is unclear which religious organizations are permitted to claim the new exemption, and whether it will extend to for-profit organizations, individuals, or non-denominational organizations. Third, money is fungible, and many religious organizations may still object to being forced to pay money to an insurance company which will turn around and provide contraception to its employees for free.
UPDATE: The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also issued a statement on Friday (full text) saying that while the new policy requires careful moral analysis, the "only complete solution" is is for HHS to rescind the coverage mandate.