In the News 2013

Obama Admin Tries Again to Appease Misogynist Clerics on Contraception; No Dice

If there’s one thing that President Barack Obama and his cabinet secretaries should have learned by now, it’s that right-wing leaders of misogynist religions will never, ever be happy with the administration’s attempts to appease them with any kind of accommodation on matters involving the control of women’s bodies by the female souls who inhabit them. But, goddess bless them, they keep trying.

Three days after a federal judge dismissed a case against the adminitration brought by the Archidiocese of St. Louis for the sin of mandating the inclusion of conception in employer-provided health-care plans, the administration amended its earlier “accommodation” of its rules for religiously affiliated institutions so as to broaden the range of institutions that would be exempted from the mandate.

On the pro-choice side, reactions are mixed. Writing at The Raw Story, David Ferguson reports:

NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood, the Guttmacher institute and other organizations have enthusiastically greeted the news that under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, steps are being taken to remove the onus of providing contraceptive coverage from employers in instances where providing such coverage would violate religious principles.

But at Catholics For Choice, the response is muted criticism. From a the written statement of CFC President Jon O’Brien:

“Today the Obama Administration did the right thing the wrong way. According to the proposed rule, some women whose employers have a religious objection to providing contraception will still be able to get access through a third party provider…but the proposed rule’s expansion of which employers can be exempted from providing comprehensive preventive healthcare, including contraception, is appalling. Women who work at Catholic schools, hospitals and social service agencies are wondering whether they’ll be able to get the same coverage as millions of other women, or if their healthcare just isn’t as important to the president as their bosses’ beliefs about sex and reproduction.”

Veteran New York Times reporter Robert Pear explains the change this way:

Administration officials…proposed a new definition of “religious employers” that can be exempted from the requirement to provide contraceptive coverage.

The exemption would be available to churches, other houses of worship and certain affiliated organizations.

Under the proposal, the administration said, “a house of worship would not be excluded from the exemption because, for example, it provides charitable social services to persons of different religious faiths or employs persons of different religious faiths.”


Under the original standard, a religious employer could not have qualified for the exemption if it employed or served large numbers of people of a different faith, as many Catholic hospitals, universities and social service agencies do.

So how are the Catholic bishops and right-wing evangelical leaders expressing their joy? In the first case, like this, as reported by Pear:

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a noncommittal statement saying he welcomed the opportunity to study the proposed regulation.

Or like this title of written statement from the Family Research Council: “Updated HHS Mandate Continues Attack on Religious Freedom.”

There’s just no pleasing some people.

This piece was originally published by Alternet.


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