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Capitol Roundup: Birth Control Fight Still On [Poll]

While the Connecticut delegation hailed President Barack Obama's compromise on the birth control mandate, Catholic bishops say they still find it objectionable.

On Friday when President Barack Obama announced a compromise had been reached on a controversial policy mandating access to contraceptive services, Connecticut's congressional delegation fired off statements to the news media in support of revisions the administration had made.

"In this politically charged environment, it is heartening to see that we can come together to find a path forward that protects the health needs of women while recognizing the conscience concerns of religious institutions," U.S. Rep. John Larson, a Roman Catholic, said in a statement published by the Hartford Courant.

But soon after the announcement, Catholic bishops across the country renewed their opposition to the policy, including the revisions, and what had been described as a compromise now appears far from settled.

The Catholic bishops said the revisions, which would no longer require employers to pay for such services, did not go far enough in protecting religious liberties because it still would require private health plans to provide women access to birth control even if their employers objected.

"We will therefore continue – with no less vigor, no less sense of urgency – our efforts to correct this problem through the other two branches of government," the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement posted late Friday to its website. "For example, we renew our call on Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. And we renew our call to the Catholic faithful, and to all our fellow Americans, to join together in this effort to protect religious liberty and freedom of conscience for all."

The White House had proposed that rather than requiring employers to carry contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the requirement would shift to the insurance company, which would be required to offer those services directly to the woman free of charge.

Under that scenario, religious organizations would not have to subsidize the contraception costs and would not have to play any role in the matter, according to the administration. Churches and houses of worship also would be exempt from the requirement to refer or provide coverage for contraception, administration officials said.

Offering contraceptive services, according to the White House, would be considered cost-neutral to the insurance company because it would prevent additional health costs, adding the Federal Employees Health Benefit System saw no increase in premiums when contraception was added and required of non-religious employees in Hawaii.

However, Catholic bishops said the services would still remain a part of the insurance plan, and as a result inherently financed by the employer who objects to the services on moral grounds. The mandate also would appear to apply to self-insurance plans, according to the bishops.

"We note at the outset that the lack of clear protection for key stakeholders — for self-insured religious employers; for religious and secular for-profit employers; for secular non-profit employers; for religious insurers; and for individuals — is unacceptable and must be corrected," according to the group's statement.

Swami February 17, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Look on the bright side, politicians are one of the few professions that make lawyers look good. A Gallup poll conducted from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 found that lawyers are in the bottom half of professions about whose ethical standards and honesty the respondents were least confident. When asked to rank 21 professions, ranging from medical professionals to clergy to journalists to salespeople of all kinds, respondents viewed attorneys as about “average” (43 percent) when it came to ethical standards. While that may not seem so bad, just 19 percent said they had “very high/high” confidence in lawyers’ honesty, and 37 percent rated them as “very low/low.” By comparison, the much-maligned members of Congress were viewed as least ethical, with just 7 percent of people giving them a “very high/high” ranking, and 64 percent a “very low/low” rating. On the opposite end of the spectrum, nurses were seen as most ethical (84 percent “very high/high” and 1 percent “very low/low”).
sebastian dangerfield February 18, 2012 at 02:33 AM
sully, Now it has emerged that 70 per cent of Americans do not know what the Constitution is, and six per cent don't even know when Independence Day falls. Newsweek recently gave 1,000 Americans the U.S. Citizenship test and found that their knowledge of the history and running of their own country was seriously lacking. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1368482/How-ignorant-Americans-An-alarming-number-U-S-citizens-dont-know-basic-facts-country.html#ixzz1mhGQwGgY I dont care what polls say. I happen to be able to read the paper, and see politician after politician arrested or asked to resign. You live your life listening and following polls. Good for you, I guess. I happen to think polls are meaningless, when you ask ignorant people, like the above what is what.
Swami February 18, 2012 at 03:19 AM
Luca, denial is unhealthy. "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." - Albert Einstein "
Alex Tytler February 18, 2012 at 02:04 PM
"Never underestimate the stupidity of the American public"
Swami February 18, 2012 at 02:31 PM
I agree Eric, with the huge majority living in what is known as Red States.... http://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/politics/red-blue-states-summary.htm
Alex Tytler February 18, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Yes, that was clearly the stupidest thing the American public ever did, but i think the punishment of the last 4 years may have brought some back to reality. Pain is a great educator.
SmallMinds February 19, 2012 at 12:01 AM
exactly
MBP February 19, 2012 at 01:30 AM
@Michael Shea, oh come on. If the Catholic church really believed that "using women for sexual recreation is a wicked thing and that men and women only attain dignity and respect for each other when their natural lives are not altered by powerful chemicals, latex or by sticking copper wires inside their bodies" as you wrote, why are the Bishops ok with insurance plans covering Viagra? That's a powerful body-chemistry altering chemical that's marketed towards men of a 'certain age' whose spouses are presumably past child bearing age.
Moses February 19, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Oh boy, here we go again with the "I'm a better Christian than you" B.S. COLUMBUS, Ohio – White House candidate Rick Santorum on Saturday questioned President Obama's Christian values and attacked GOP rival Mitt Romney's Olympics leadership as he courted tea party activists and evangelical voters in Ohio, "ground zero" in the 2012 nomination fight. Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator known for his social conservative policies, said that Obama's agenda is "not about you. It's not about your quality of life. It's not about your jobs. It's about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology."
dave March 02, 2012 at 11:55 PM
your argument of the bishops getting involved in politics is just so short sighted. what you really are saying, they should just sit there and keep quiet about goverment mandating something they believe is an offense to their God. that if your opinion is that of a religious nature it doesnt belong in the political forum, or we will threaten to take your tax exempt status away if you do not shut your mouth. is that the country you want to live in? what if it was turned around the other way? what if a catholic president wanted to mandate that everyone had to pay for childrens catechism class? what if a muslum president wanted to mandate that our tax dollars go to send muslums to the holy journey to mecca? what if the president mandated that everyone had to have some kind of religious instruction, for the betterment of society? would you be so inclined to keep your mouth shut?
--- March 03, 2012 at 01:15 AM
QWERTY, You said to Jimmy: "Jimmy, tell me...AGAIN....what illness does the morning-after-pill prevent? Because that pill is included in this discussion. I guess reducing the population is one way of reducing healthcare costs....." Funny you should mention that, since Sebelius did herself. See here: http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2012/03/02/government_saving_money_by_decreasing_the_number_of_human_beings “The reduction in the number of pregnancies compensates for the cost of contraception,” Sebelius said. Yikes! Pretty soon there will be a discussion if we could save money for the Federal government by having forced abortions of human babies diagnosed with mental handicaps in the womb.
dave March 03, 2012 at 02:11 AM
bruce, you are so right. everytime the left wants, we the people. to pay for something, they frame it as a "right". what they are trying here is very deceptive, they know all our court decisions are based on precident. which means if they can force people to pay for things that the have objections to, they can pretty much mandate anything they want. we have already surrendered too much power to the political elite, it is time to say enough is enough.
Long Time Resident March 03, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Freedom of religion, the freedom to practice one's religion is guaranteed in the constitution. The right against discrimination, such as a female employee who want's her birth control pills covered by her Catholic Corporation insurance company like every other American Insurance Policy is also guaranteed... Who wins? The right of the religion or the right of the person? If the Catholic church wins this argument, do we allow the Muslim religion to practice archaic acts such as the "eye for an eye" belief? Do we get to see Muslim kids come to school without a hand because they stole something, all in the name of religious freedom? The Bishops are against contraception strictly because less kids equal less pickings for the clergy when it comes time for molestation! The Catholic Church is the most hypocritical, political and corrupt organization in the world.
Rob Gianazza March 03, 2012 at 02:32 PM
And what constitution is that? Seriously, can you point out where in the constitution the phrase "Freedom of religion" appears? The Constitution I hold dearly states "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." If you choose to make statements, please be prepared to back them up. I find your last paragraph particularly offensive.
Paul Improta March 03, 2012 at 04:58 PM
The issue here originates with employer-sponsored health plans. Reform should include eliminating that level of bureaucracy, and asking individuals to purchase their own individual health plan, including choosing and paying for various optional coverage including prescription drug coverage, including prescribed contraceptives. If individuals purchased their own coverage, this whole discussion would be moot. And, why not? Why should one's employer be their father? Why should an employer be the entity which chooses your coverage anyway? Your employer doesn't buy your car or home insurance, why should they be your nanny when it comes to funding your healthcare treatment?
Paul Improta March 03, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Pursey is wrong. History: Contraception was not a covered expenditure until CT passed the so-called "Pill Bill" about 6 or 7 years ago. The reason it wasn't covered is because contraception is not medically necessary, and because it's use does not treat an unforseen event or an unintended event. When Viagra came into use, it was covered because under prescription drug coverage, it is used to treat a dysfunction. The Democrat-majority in the CT legislature twisted the definitions in insurance to assert that because female contraceptives were prescription drugs, they should be covered by prescription drug coverage, even though they don't treat a dysfunction but cause a dysfunction. And, so it was mandated - a clear overstepping of their authority - by edict they made t so, and so it is.
Will Wilkin March 03, 2012 at 05:10 PM
All these roads and schools and rules against pollution and selling poison food....what a fool I've been to think these are good! Thank you for finally showing me the truth!
Paul Improta March 03, 2012 at 05:14 PM
What you have to worry about in this whole argument is the government dictating courses of treatment to influence behavior and populations, which is exactly what this is. Next they'll be requiring euthenasia for the elderly and infirm be covered.
Paul Improta March 03, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Ken, I don't think you have to worry about prescribed contraceptives or that the church will be visiting you as the condom police.
Paul Improta March 03, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Let's get back to the issue of mandatory employer funding for female contraceptives. Ultimately, it is the worker who performs the work that generates the income which goes to pay for medical coverage offered by the employer. Why should a worker who is not benefitting from their coworker's daughter's sex life, have to pay for her contraception? Why doesn't the coworker's daughter simply charge the person she is having sex with for her contraception since it is he who is getting the perks?
Will Wilkin March 03, 2012 at 05:54 PM
For the same reason we as ratepayers pay for other people's obesity, motorcycling, rock-climbing, working on roofs and every other risk that is taken in the course of ordinary life. Your question basically shows a rejection of the concept of insurance itself, which seems to stem from your ideology of extreme individualism bordering on Maggie Thatcher's pronouncement "there's no such thing as society." Well, there is, especiaslly relevant to thgis discussion because if the overwhelming majority of reproductive age women in our society use contraception, and if medical advice is necessary for much of that, then that is rightly mandated to be included in all health insurance. I do agree with you halfway on one thing. Health insurance should not be organized through employer-sponsored plans. Like all the other most economically developed societies, the USA should have a National Health Insurance that every healthcare provider must accept. A lot of big corporations would actually find relief in being able to shed the expense of retiree medical benefits.
Paul Improta March 03, 2012 at 06:52 PM
The concept of insurance is based on the theory of indemnity, which requires an event to be both unforeseen and unintended. Sex is both foreseen and intended, as is pregnacy. By the way, our constitution bases our society on individualism, not statism. Also, we do have national healthcare - it's called Medicare, and it's going broke, but no wonder when a $30 flu shot is reimbursed to the VNA for $200, and taht is what you get when you take the checks and balances away from the free market and hand it to bureaucrats - the end-user doesn't care because it's no skin off their nose, and the bureacracy only cares about keeping you dependent, no matter how poor the treatment or service.
--- March 03, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Rob, "...the free exercise thereof..." is Freedom of Religion. Come on, man. You knew this.
Alex Tytler March 03, 2012 at 07:10 PM
"Like all the other most economically developed societies" You mean the ones that are all bankrupt now? Yea lets follow them over the cliff, great idea! Are liberals born stupid, or do they develop it over time?
Rob Gianazza March 03, 2012 at 07:53 PM
What's disappointing is what people "think" the U.S. Constitution says and what it actually says. I take the exact wording very seriously and expressions "close enough" or "that's what it means" isn't the same thing. The farther we stray from the writings of our forefathers, the farther we stray from their intent. The intent was that there would be no government religion, such as from the countries they fled from in the first place. Yes, Americans are free to practice the faith of their choice. Read the words.
Paul Improta March 03, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Funny how Obama is taking credit for taking out Bin Laden in an action completely contrary to Holder's position on the Gitmo prisoners and alien combatants.
Douglas Brennan March 03, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Does the government actually ever provide any service? Perhaps the military hires soldiers and the IRS hires auditors. However the IRS does not create the computer systems, the military does not build the weapons, nor does it grow the food for the troops, nor does it build the ships, etc. For many things that government provides it contracts with private industry to actually provide the "service." Even with Medicare the government does not provide the pills, the doctors or in many cases the hospitals does it? But what we have found is that the government does very little well even in contracting with others for a good or service. It does not create the type of accountability that private industry creates and it does not provide the management of resources in a manner that is as effective as private industry. Since it has long been established that it is both theorectically and actually inefficient the best program for the citizen is to limit its scope and resources. Our nations founders understood this however we are losing our way the more we allocate to the inefficient and ineffective.
--- March 03, 2012 at 11:39 PM
"Yes, Americans are free to practice the faith of their choice." Indeed. And to have a religion of choice, we need to be in a Nation that provides us with that freedom, hence, The US Constitution says it will not impede the free exercise thereof. I agree wholeheartedly that the government shall never start a "National Religion", as it would violate the Constitution. But our Constitution expressly gives us the right to Freedom of Religion and the free exercise of said religion. Making it simpler, how can we be given the freedom to exercise our religion if we cannot freely choose our religion in the first place?
Long Time Resident March 04, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Rob, the first ammendment is pretty clear: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." What part of that don't you get? If congress can't make a law prohibiting the free exercise of religion, then that translates into freedom of religion doesn't it? Anyone who knows constitutional law also knows the so called separation of church and state came from a decades old Supreme Court Decision, not from the actual language in the constitution and has been interpreted and misinterpreted for years. I find it particularly offensive that the Catholic church and its hierarchy ignored, hid and covered up the molestation of thousands of children by priests for decades and continued to allow the offenders to offer absolution and serve communion, while disallowing their members from partaking in sacraments because they violated church rules.
Rob Gianazza March 04, 2012 at 04:14 PM
@Long Time Resident. Congratulations on your ability to cut & paste from my post. I too find it offensive the way the whole child molestation issue was handled, but that has no place in this topic. You choose to use it as an attack on Catholicism. Let's focus on the topic, government mandated insurance benefits. This is a slippery slope, once you permit the government to make one decision for you, they will continue to legislate the rest of your freedoms away. Whether you agree or disagree about contraceptives, the issue is really about how far are we willing to allow the government to control our daily lives?

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