In a decision that likely shocked no one, the Catholic Bishops have rejected the third attempt by the Obama administration to appease their concerns over the birth control benefit in Obamacare saying it didn’t offer enough protections for religiously affiliated businesses and universities that object to providing insurance coverage for contraception.
Instead of working with the administration toward common ground the Bishops also announced they’d continue to fight the benefit in court where so far almost fifty lawsuits challenging the administration are working their way through the federal courts.
At this point the only question that remains is why the Obama administration insists on trying to negotiate or work with the Bishops.
The latest accommodation announced by the administration expanded the definition of religiously affiliated entities so that more nonprofit hospitals, nursing homes and other charities fall under the definition. The expansion matches the definition used by the Internal Revenue System and, so far, the Bishops have not complained about the IRS definition in the decades it has been in existence.
Under the latest proposal, religiously affiliated nonprofit groups that object to providing birth control coverage on religious grounds would not have to pay for it. Instead, women who work for such organizations could get contraceptive coverage through separate individual health insurance policies. The institution objecting to the coverage would not pay for the contraceptives. Rather, the costs would be paid by an insurance company, with the possibility that it could recoup the costs through lower health care expenses resulting in part from fewer births. The administration refused to grant an exemption or accommodation to secular businesses owned by people who said they objected to contraceptive coverage on religious grounds.
According to the New York Times, the Bishops believe it is not enough to shield these employers from any financial obligation related to the benefit. Instead, every person should be able to opt out, regardless if their business is religious in nature or is secular and for-profit. “In obedience to our Judeo-Christian heritage,” Cardinal Dolan said, “we have consistently taught our people to live their lives during the week to reflect the same beliefs that they proclaim on the Sabbath. We cannot now abandon them to be forced to violate their morally well-informed consciences.”
Shocking, I know.
Nothing short of completely abandoning Obamacare will satisfy the Bishops. They have taken it upon themselves to politick in the name of the church and in doing so have alienated many Catholics and most reasonable-minded people. A person’s religious beliefs do not shield them or enable them to break the law or discriminate, a point the Supreme Court has made abundantly clear. But for now it looks like it’s an issue the Court will re-visit all while women who work for religiously-affiliated hospitals, schools or other charities, find their health care passed around like a political football by a bunch of men.
Photo: Joshua Lanzarini/flickr