Concession on Birth Control Not Sufficient, Bishops Say; Affiliates Still Not Free of Mandate
Byline: Tom Howell Jr., THE WASHINGTON TIMES
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. …