The Catholic Health Association was a key ally in Obama’s health care overhaul, defying opposition from church bishops to help the president win approval in Congress. But the group said Friday it does not believe church-affiliated employers should have to provide birth control as a free preventive service, as the law now requires.
The hospital group’s decision calls into question a compromise offered by the president himself only months ago, under which the cost of providing birth control would be covered by insurance companies and not religious employers. While churches and other places of worship are exempt from the birth control mandate, nonprofits affiliated with a religion, such as hospitals, are not.
In a letter to the federal Health and Human Services department, the hospital group said the compromise initially seemed to be “a good first step” but that examination of the details proved disappointing. The plan would be “unduly cumbersome” to carry out and “unlikely to adequately meet the religious liberty concerns” of all its members, the group said.
While some liberal-leaning religious groups see no problem with the birth control rule, Roman Catholic bishops and conservative-leaning groups are treating it as an affront and calling it an attack on religious freedom. Institutions ranging from the University of Notre Dame to Catholic Charities in several states to the Archdiocese of Washington have sued to block the rule.
With the Catholic Health Association now voicing concerns, opponents gained a powerful endorsement. There was no immediate reaction from the Obama administration.
And there likely won't be. In fact, I expect them to double down.
Might Catholics continue to unite in opposition.
Viva Cristo Rey!
(Image found here)