Amid a backlash from many Catholics and proponents of religious liberty,
President Barack Obama announced Friday that his administration will not require religious institutions like hospitals and universities to provide free contraception to their employees in their health insurance.
There's slightly more information at USA Today. Looks like he's only shifting the burden to the insurance companies.
"Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive service no matter where they work," Obama said. "That core principle remains. But if a woman's employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptives services as part of their health plan, the insurance company -- not the hospital, not the charity -- will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge without co-pays, without hassle."
The change, loosely based on a regulation in effect in Hawaii, still leaves some unanswered questions. How will women be referred to insurers if they don't think of it themselves?
[What?! What kind of a question is that? Obviously, if they don't think of it themselves, the government will have to step in and do their thinking for them! Sheesh.]
Will the cost of contraceptives get added to premiums? And will other employers - say, a strict Catholic who owns a restaurant -- be allowed the same exemption as hospitals, schools and charities?
Officials said that while the final rule goes into effect today, it will not be enforced on religious organizations that object until August... leaving additional time to work out details.
I just saw Bill Donohue on "America Live". What he said was pretty much the same as what's written at the Catholic League website website, but to say he was emphatic would be an understatement. Ballistic is more like it.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on President Obama’s revised healthcare plan as it affects Catholic institutions:
President Obama’s latest ploy just adds insult to injury.
If the insurance plan of a Catholic institution must cover services it deems immoral, then such a healthcare plan is offensive, plain and simple.
The Catholic League, for example, uses Christian Brothers as its insurance carrier. So if a future employee of ours were to demand free abortion-inducing drugs, and she is allowed to request free drugs from Christian Brothers, then the rest of us would, in effect, be subsidizing her abortion. This is outrageous and will not stand judicial scrutiny.
When it comes to the First Amendment, there is no such thing as a half loaf. We want now, and in the future, the same rights we have enjoyed since the beginning of the republic.
The Obama ploy is also cynical: its effect is to peel off liberal Catholic opposition to Obamacare. In other words, the old divide and conquer strategy is in play. But it won’t work as nicely as they think: there are too many practicing Catholics who will only be impelled to revolt.
Obama has decided to turn up the heat. He’ll soon see how hot things get when Catholics team with Protestants, Jews, Mormons and others to recapture their First Amendment rights.
Indeed, President Obama will now be remembered as the president who brought the culture war to a boil.
As I understand it, Obama's far left base is now disappointed that he caved, and most of the rest of the country is still furious over continuing threat to our religious freedom. So who does that leave in Obama's corner? Sebelius, Valerie Jarrett, Moochelle, Axelrod and Jay Carney. I don't think that's going to be enough.