Obama, Contraceptives, And The Catholic Vote

Will the Obama Administration's decision on contraceptive coverage by the Catholic Church have an impact in November?

For the second weekend in a row, Catholic parishioners across the United States were read a message from the U.S. Conference Of Catholic Bishops on the recent decision by the Obama Administration to extend to church-run institutions such as hospitals a requirement that employer-provided health insurance include coverage for contraceptives:

(Reuters) – American Catholic clergy called on the faithful to write Congress to protest new birth control rules from President Barack Obama’s administration, stepping up a campaign that began a week ago with denunciations from the pulpit at Masses across the country.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, posted an “Urgent Action Alert” over the weekend calling on Catholics to write to their U.S. lawmakers protesting the rule.

The fight is over a provision of the health reform law announced on January 20 that would require health insurance plans — including those offered by institutions such as Catholic-affiliated hospitals and universities — to offer free birth control including sterilization.

At Immaculate Conception Catholic church in the Philadelphia suburb of Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, Monsignor David E. Diamond read the congregation a letter on Sunday from Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput parishioners to contact members of Congress.

“Write them, call them, visit them – and help them understand the deep resistance of Pennsylvania Catholics to this dangerous ruling,” the letter said.

Perhaps sensing a political opportunity, pretty much all of the Republican candidates for President have been hitting the Obama Administration for this decision, with Newt Gingrich being the most vociferous in claiming that the decision constitutes a war on the Roman Catholic Church. While that rhetoric is, in a word, absurd, there’s no doubt that this decision caused more controversy than the Obama Administration seems to have anticipated, although one is not at all clear how they could have not anticipated that this would be a problem for the Church regardless of how you try to spin it. It’s an issue that has the potential to cross ideological lines as well. MSNBC host Mika Brezinski, who is generally quite supportive of the Administration but also happens to be Catholic, said this morning on Morning Joe that she thought the Administration was wrong to push this button not just with the Church, but with Catholic voters.

A piece in CNN last week wondered that same point:

(CNN)-After years of bridge building with the Catholic Church, the Obama administration may have damaged some of the good will it built up with the nation’s 70 million Catholics, which could have steep consequences at the polls in November.

Some rank and file Catholics are beginning to express the same frustrations as clergy about a new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services policy requiring all employers, including religious ones, to pay for FDA-approved contraceptives, such as the birth control pill and Plan B, through health insurance plans. Churches are exempt but hospitals and schools with religious affiliations must comply. The new policy goes into effect August 1, 2012, but religious groups who oppose contraception have been given a yearlong extension to enforce the policy.

“What’s offensive is that we’re being told, our Catholic institutions which serve this nation well, are being told you who find these things offensive, you should pay for them, in fact you must pay for them,” Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, told CNN.

Catholic teaching opposes the use of contraceptives.  Wuerl acknowledged the clergy and the faithful have been at odds over the teachings on contraceptive use. But on this policy he said both are in lockstep over what is being perceived as a violation of religious liberties.

“This time around what people are seeing this isn’t a question of one moral teaching or another, it’s being able to teach at all. Our freedom, and everyone has a stake in freedom in this country, and I think that’s why this resonates across the board,” he said.

And yesterday in The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan argues that the President has entered a battle that he cannot win:

There was no reason to make this ruling—none. Except ideology.

The conscience clause, which keeps the church itself from having to bow to such decisions, has always been assumed to cover the church’s institutions.

Now the church is fighting back. Priests in an estimated 70% of parishes last Sunday came forward to read strongly worded protests from the church’s bishops. The ruling asks the church to abandon Catholic principles and beliefs; it is an abridgement of the First Amendment; it is not acceptable. They say they will not bow to it. They should never bow to it, not only because they are Catholic and cannot be told to take actions that deny their faith, but because they are citizens of the United States.

If they stay strong and fight, they will win. This is in fact a potentially unifying moment for American Catholics, long split left, right and center. Catholic conservatives will immediately and fully oppose the administration’s decision. But Catholic liberals, who feel embarrassed and undercut, have also come out in opposition.

The church is split on many things. But do Catholics in the pews want the government telling their church to contravene its beliefs? A president affronting the leadership of the church, and blithely threatening its great institutions? No, they don’t want that. They will unite against that.

(…)

There was no reason to pick this fight. It reflects political incompetence on a scale so great as to make Mitt Romney’s gaffes a little bitty thing.

There was nothing for the president to gain, except, perhaps, the pleasure of making a great church bow to him.

Enjoy it while you can. You have awakened a sleeping giant

As Noonan goes on to point out, Catholics made up 27% of the national electorate in 2008 and Obama won Catholics at the national level 54% to 45%. There’s no reason to think that the Catholic vote has any particular loyalty to President Obama because of the outcome in 2008, Four years earlier, the Catholic vote had gone 52% to 47% for George W. Bush, and if you track the exit polls going back to 1980 you’ll see that Catholic voters fluctuated between majority Republican and majority Democratic as much as the general electorate has over that time. The Catholic vote also played an important role in many of the swing states that Obama picked up in 2008 that allowed him to score a victory that few Democrats have seen since Richard Nixon was President. In Ohio, for example, Catholics accounted for 23% of the electorate and Obama won them 52% to 47%.  In Florida, Catholics made up 23% of the vote and Obama won that demographic 50% to 49%.  The results were similar in other states and, in many cases, it wouldn’t have taken much of a switch in loyalty for the Catholic vote to have sided with McCain and, if this decision does generate the kind of antipathy that some are anticipating, then it could play a huge role in the outcome of the vote in the swing states that President Obama will need to hold on to if he’s going to be re-elected.

David Friedman comments:

On the one hand, I suspect that many, probably a majority, of American Catholics do not  accept the church’s position on contraception—are, for one thing, willing to use it themselves. One might expect them to accept the requirement, perhaps to approve of it. That might be what Obama is counting on.

On the other hand …  . Human beings have a very strong aversion to being pushed around. I can easily imagine a Catholic who would be delighted if the church dropped its opposition to contraception, who is entirely willing to use contraception, but who is badly offended by having the U.S. government compel the church to pay for services that violate church doctrine.

That, essentially, is the political gamble that the Obama Administration is making here. One can disagree with the Church’s teaching on contraception, and many American Catholics do, but if the perception becomes that this is an example of the heavy hand of the state imposing its will on a religious organization regardless, then the fact that American Catholics support contraceptive use may end up being irrelevant.

They didn’t have to make this choice, of course. They could have followed the example of states like Hawaii that grant a broad exemption on contraceptive coverage for any religious institution, with the only requirement being that they are required to provide their employees with information on where they could obtain such coverage at low cost. Another option would have been to require them to notify employees that they could provide a rider to the basic employer-provided coverage that would cover contraception provided that the employee picked up the entire cost of that additional coverage. Instead, they choose to go this route for reasons that seem inexplicable from a political and policy point of view.

As I said last week, I’m not at all persuaded by the religious liberty arguments that have been made against this decision. These claims will be litigated, however, and it will be interesting to see how they’re treated by the Courts. As a matter of politics, though, the Administration’s decision strikes me as a dumb and inappropriate one that didn’t need to be made.

Photo via Politico

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Health Care, Politicians, Religion, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Hey Norm says:

    They should be as worried for the young boys they rape(d).

  2. alkali says:

    This might be very persuasive if we weren’t seeing a test case in real time of the strategy Noonan is advocating, i.e., the Komen Foundation’s cutting of ties with Planned Parenthood. Presumably the same arguments were made there: “It’s an obvious mistake to alienate the anti-abortion majority. The smart move is to cut ties with PP and double the contributor base. What could go wrong?”

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    The Providence Medical System is a Catholic nonprofit in my area. It is huge, 27 Hospitals, over 200 medical clinics and one of the largest insurance providers. Most of the employees and customers are not Catholic. I really don’t see how an organization this size could be exempted from regulations. Since 98% of American Catholics use birth control I think political damage will be minimal especially with some Republican Candidates talking about outlawing birth control all together.

  4. David M says:

    I’m fine with the exception. If a church wants to run non-church businesses, why should they get an exemption? It’d be like a church running a fast food restaurant and wanting the exemption, it makes no sense to grant one to a fast food restaurant regardless of the owners.

  5. Ben Wolf says:

    In this case I think the Obama Administration made the correct decision from a constitutional perspective (for once). If you take federal money you comply with federal law, and that means not forcing your religious views on people who don’t want them. I don’t care that it might have been bad politics; it was the right thing to do.

  6. PD Shaw says:

    We live in a country in which drug laws were enforced, with the approval of the Supreme Court, against religious use of peyote, resulting in a near unanimous passage of a law requiring the government to privilege religious beliefs by providing exemptions and alternatives when possible.

    I don’t believe that’s because the country had softened on the drug wars. I don’t think its because the country had a moment of realization about the history of the American Indians. I rather think that in the abstract people value religions, even those that are not their own, or they believe that their own religious views might be next if the government begins to interfere with them.

    Whether or not the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies here; its continued existence suggests Obama is on rocky political ground.

  7. JKB says:

    This isn’t some isolated Obama gambit. It is the Democratic party that is doing this. Pelosi is out for it although with doublespeak.

    So I expect we’ll be hearing more of Reagan’s explanation.

    “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, it left me.”

  8. mantis says:

    Instead, they choose to go this route for reasons that seem inexplicable from a political and policy point of view.

    It may be inexplicable from a political perspective to you, but it is not inexplicable from a policy perspective at all. The policy is universal. It is not aimed at the Catholic Church in any way. It applies to all businesses and nonprofits that provide benefits to their employees. If the Catholic Church wants to run secular businesses and nonprofits such as hospitals, they need to follow the law just like everyone else. That is not the slightest bit inexplicable from a policy point of view. It makes perfect sense.

    Catholic hospitals are also not exempted from laws regulating the disposal of biohazard materials. They have to follow the same laws as everyone else. Why should it be different for healthcare? Unless the hospitals are run by and fully staffed by members of the clergy or otherwise ordained members of the church, then there is no reason.

    The fact that the church has been so quick and uniform in its fight against obeying the law while they systematically covered up their decades-long child rape factory is evidence of a rather disturbingly out of whack set of priorities. But hey, what else is new?

  9. @Ben Wolf:

    The “you take federal money” argument is not the basis for the Employer Mandate at all, though.

    Which is why, as I said in my original post last week, I personally don’t see why Congress or the President have the authority to tell any employer what the terms of an employer-provided health insurance policy should be if they choose t provide pone.

  10. WR says:

    Interesting that the article tries to claim that rank and file Catholics will be as upset with the administration as the clergy has been ordered to be, and in order to prove the claim quotes the archbishop of Washington and Peggy Noonan, right wing hack, both of whom can clearly claim to be the voice of the Little People. Oh, and some libertarian economist who apparently is not Catholic. (And is an adult who claims The Moon is a Harsh Mistress as one of his favorite books. I guess Farnham’s Freehold is a little too embarassing…)

  11. Ben Wolf says:

    The “you take federal money” argument is not the basis for the Employer Mandate at all, though.

    You are correct, and I do not give Obama credit for making a deliberate pro-constitutional decision, I simply believe it to be the proper decision in terms of my civil libertarianism. What the Obama Administration’s purposes are I don’t know. I’m just tired of giving consideration to politics at all when core liberties are at stake.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    Having had to pay my fair share for every stupid, immoral, counterproductive war we’ve fought in the last several decades, I’m finding it difficult to sympathize with religionists who are upset about having to provide normal health care insurance to their employees.

  13. Ron Beasley says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I personally don’t see why Congress or the President have the authority to tell any employer what the terms of an employer-provided health insurance policy should be if they choose to provide none.

    I’m actually sympathetic to that argument but it is a different issue. I personally would like to see employer health insurance end period. If that happened we could actually free market insurance.

  14. Lit3Bolt says:

    Shorter Doug: Oh no, Obama lost the Catholic hypocrite vote.

    It’s easier for celibates to rail against the black president than 98% of your parishioners with their 2 and 3 child families, which is a far cry from the 8 and 10 child Catholic families of yesteryear.

    Because, y’know, politicians should totally pander to religiously extreme views on sexuality.

  15. Brummagem Joe says:

    As a matter of politics, though, the Administration’s decision strikes me as a dumb and inappropriate one that didn’t need to be made.

    Doug this is total nonsense, there was no way they could avoid providing guidance on this. Once you start making exceptions on legislation like this you’re driving a bus through it. As to its political implications. Nada. 98% of Catholic women use birth control. And it has the potential for backfiring on the church. The Sunday before yesterday the priest in my wife’s church (she fairly devout but not slavish) delivered an agressive homily on this topic whic had women walking out. Yesterday she brings home a copy of the church mag and rather laughingly this morning shows me a mealy mouthed apologia by the priest. In fact I’m looking at it as we speak.

  16. Ben Wolf says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    Oh no, Obama lost the Catholic hypocrite vote.

    He may have, and it may cost him, that’s the point. This is not an administration famed for standing on principles, so it’s perfectly reasonable to ask what they’re playing at. That tens of millions of americans are hypocrites does not mean their votes are inconsequential.

  17. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Have you been able to figure out what the enforcement mechanism for this rule is? I’ve done some googling and haven’t been able to figure that part out.

  18. NBH says:

    Should a JW affiliated non-profit be allowed to exclude blood transfusions from medical coverage for all employees?

    I have a friend who’s had major medical issues most of her life. She was told she could never carry a child to term, and getting pregnant could kill her if not corrected fast enough. Before she had a hysterectomy, birth control and condoms were life-saving items for her. But according to “pro-life” Catholics, it would have been better for her to get pregnant and die than use such things.

    This isn’t about Catholic religious freedom, it’s about the Church being able to use its reach to suppress the freedom and endanger the health of others. Hospitals and non-profits are not religious institutions no matter how badly they want to try and blur the lines so they can have their cake and eat it too.

  19. mantis says:

    I personally don’t see why Congress or the President have the authority to tell any employer what the terms of an employer-provided health insurance policy should be if they choose to provide none.

    I take you are also see no authority to establish a minimum wage or child-labor laws. Really, the whole Fair Labor Standards Act is a total overreach, right?

  20. David M says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: I’m pretty sure there is either a tax credit/penalty if large business do/don’t provide insurance for their employees. This is just stating what the minimum standards should be.

  21. rudderpedals says:

    Nice concern troll.

  22. Hey Norm says:

    I say make ’em provide contraception…and revoke their non-profit status while we are at it. And that goes for all Church property. Tax those pointy hats and velvet gowns. Tax those gold crosses. And fer gods sake (pun intended) tax that valuable property the Church itself sits on in the center of town.

  23. Raoul says:

    The Church offering birth control is not considered a sin- it is for for those Catholic believers who avail themselves of the option. I find degrading when we ascribe human attributes to institutions (corporate free speech, church’s conscience). It appears to me as means of forced control among those with power. Effect of the new policy in the election? Nil, since the policy merely recognizes what is already happening in real life. Anytime we narrow the bridge between de facto and de jure society triumphs.

  24. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @David M: Yes, I’ve been trying to figure out if it is tied into qualifications under ERISA, or not. I guess that was my actual question – whether or not the plan’s qualified status for tax exemption was at issue.

  25. Brummagem Joe says:

    This is where Doug and the entire pro life crowd either deliberately or inadvertently misread the Komen and Catholic Church contraceptive backlash. This is not a revolt by pro lifers specifically it’s a revolt by women against priests, charities or government getting involved in private matters involving their health. Many women don’t like the idea of abortion but there’s no way they are going to tolerate some priest or bureaucrat or politician telling them they don’t have access to it. Ditto with nobs on for contraception. The pro life crowd loves to trumpet these polls showing women roughly divided equally on the topic. But once the question is posed of whether women should have free access or access with minor restrictions then the figure in favor jumps to the 80’s. If the right ever wants to galvanise American women against them they only need to succeed in their efforts to role back Roe.

  26. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    This is not an administration famed for standing on principles, so it’s perfectly reasonable to ask what they’re playing at.

    Would you like the names of a couple of administrations that are famed for standing on their principles?

  27. PD Shaw says:

    @Ben Wolf: Generally speaking, if you take government money, the government cannot compel private individuals or businesses to do whatever it wants. If you are a recipient of welfare, the government can’t prohibit you from attending 1% rallies or require you to take drug tests.

    The saner outcome of all of this is that if contraception is so important, the government should just buy it. The fact that this does not even appear to be discussed tells me a lot.

  28. progcivlib says:

    So apparently it’s not OK for the government to push around a religious organization that runs non-church-related institutions into providing a minimum standard of health care for the people who work for said institutions, but it’s entirely OK for that religious organization to impose it’s religious beliefs on the (or “push around” the ) individuals that they hire. Huh… That some people think it’s government that’s throwing around it’s weight here is utterly ridiculous. Tell me which institution is looking out for the individual freedom in this case? It’s not the RCC.

  29. Dave Schuler says:

    non-church-related institutions

    The Church was running hospitals 1,000 years before the U. S. government existed. Care of the sick is considered a prime mission of the Church.

  30. progcivlib says:

    @Dave Schuler: That doesn’t make it religious.

  31. murray says:

    If there is one thing that distinguishes Catholics from other Christians in this country it is the disparity between what the Church says and what ordinary Catholics live.

    Contraception and even keeping abortion safe and legal for example are widely accepted among ordinary Catholics.

    More generally, the Catholic Church hierarchy has much less influence (if any at all) on the political stance of parishioners than what can be witnessed in the evangelical movement.

    In short, a message from the college of Catholic Bishops will have almost zero influence on Catholics. There is no such thing as the “Catholic vote”.

  32. Ron Beasley says:

    @murray: That’s my experience as well. I can’t really understand why many of them are members of the Church at all since they believe the hierarchy is full of it on many issues. I can only assume it’s social rather than spiritual which I think applies to many church goers.

  33. David M says:

    There’s a good argument to be made that money in question here doesn’t belong to the church anymore, as it is part of the employee’s compensation. The employee (who may not be the same faith) is the one who is choosing to spend part of their compensation on health insurance and makes the actual decision on using birth control they purchase with their own money.

  34. mantis says:

    @Dave Schuler: The Church was running hospitals 1,000 years before the U. S. government existed. Care of the sick is considered a prime mission of the Church.

    Yeah, but before the US, the Church that ran those hospitals was the government, all the way back to Charlemagne, who got the ball rolling that kept everybody in leeches during the Middle Ages. The Catholic Church were universal government healthcare pioneers! Hey, Catholic means universal! Dirty pre-communism commies…

    (I’m not arguing against your specific point, Dave. Of course the care for the sick is considered a religious act for the Church. Jesus said so (Luke 10:9)).

  35. PD Shaw says:

    @David M: Except that you could best approximate contraception being employee compensation by not mandating that employers provide it. You could give every employee $2,000 a year (the amount the administration wants to fine the employer) and give them the choice of either buying a contraceptive coverage rider from the government or pocketing it. The administration’s problem is most people will pocket it.

  36. shirt says:

    The church dosn’t like the idea their accountants are going to point out that the edict against birth control (F**king for Fun”) is being totally blown off by the layity.And, they ain’t confessing to it either.

  37. LL says:

    The fascistic nature of Progressives is shown once more.

  38. shirt says:

    @LL

    Cry me a river! Look, the church edict cannot apply to non-catholics. They got to pony up like every other employer. Their writ does not run to non-catholics. Now, regarding the church members: Since they are all good cathlics the church isn’t out of a cent, right. So, what’s your problem?

  39. Just nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Ron Beasley: Who are you kidding? How many employees do you think would actually spend their own money on health insurance? How many would even make enough money to do so?

  40. Ron Beasley says:

    @Just nutha ig’rant cracker: If the cost of medical insurance was passed on the employees as increased salary when combined with a reduced cost because of an actual free market system I think many would. I’m not thinking a system like we have now but largely major medical. I was in my mid 20’s before I had my first medical insurance. When I was young I still went to the doctor when it was necessary but didn’t go when I had a cold.

  41. Moderate Mom says:

    Lapsed Catholic here. I’m lapsed because I am pro-choice and believe in contraception and did not want to feel like a hypocrite attending mass and taking communion. However, I vehemently disagree with this decision on the part of the Obama Administration. To require the Church, as an institution, to provide and pay for something that is against one of the it’s most basic tenants is a step too far. It’s one thing for an individual Catholic to deal with their own conscience. That is between them and their God. It’s another thing entirely to force a religion, any religion, to violate their most sacred beliefs.

  42. An Interested Party says:

    If there is one thing that distinguishes Catholics from other Christians in this country it is the disparity between what the Church says and what ordinary Catholics live.

    Exactly right…what/who is going to sway the Catholic female voter who uses birth control, a position that requires institutions to provide birth control as part of health insurance or Peggy Noonan? Sleeping giant indeed…

  43. Ben Wolf says:

    @Brummagem Joe: None recently. What’s your point?

    @PD Shaw

    There’s no Constitutional provision prohibiting a welfare recipient from attending anything he/she wants, but there is an establishment clause prohibiting government from funding religious activities. I think it critical to maintain absolutely the line here, not only to protect government from co-option by religious factions, but to protect freedom to worship from government usurpation. m

  44. JKB says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    What is this government funding you are talking about? If a Catholic hospital or clinic provides a service to a government insured Medicaid or Medicare patient, they are simply executing a contractual transaction. If you buy something from a store, do you get to tell that store how to conduct their business?

    Or make it a condition of participation in the programs, then the Catholic entities could decide whether to participate or not. If that means the old and poor must go elsewhere for care, then do be it.

    But I think you might want to consider what @Moderate Mom said. Some Catholics might not follow the doctrine to the letter, but that doesn’t mean they will be okay with the undermining of the Church.

  45. David M says:

    It’s incorrect to refer to this as forcing the Catholic Church to do this, as the Church itself is still exempted. However, if the it owns other businesses that are not primarily church related, those businesses are not exempted. I still have yet to hear why the health insurance for employees of non-church related businesses should not be regulated just because a Church owns it instead of someone else.

    There regulations should be applied equally, so if a secular private college has to comply, then there’s no reason a religious university should be exempted. The churches themselves? Yes. Random businesses they own? No.

  46. superdestroyer says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    Look up to see if the healthcare system provide abortion services or even IVF. I would bet that they do not. Should the government also tell Catholic run hospitals that they should offer abortion procedures or IVF?

  47. dennis says:

    @JKB:

    That may be so, but it seems that the O Administration is taking the position that hospitals and other agencies are not “the Church” but are regular business organizations that have to abide by regular business practices, especially if they are receiving federal monies.

    This argument about an entity receiving federal monies is not beholden to federal law is nonsense. If churches want the government out of their business, they should not take federal funds and should stay out of government business. You can’t have it both ways.

  48. dennis says:

    And am I wrong, or did they not some time ago legislate the federal monies cannot be used to provide abortion services?

  49. WR says:

    @Moderate Mom: Banning contraception is the church’s most sacred belief? No wonder you lapsed as a Catholic, if this is all you took away from the religion.

    By the way, “how dare the government not pay homage to an edict that even I, as a follower, thought was absurd and outdated and left the church over!” is not really that convincing an argument.

  50. Moderate Mom says:

    @WR:

    Yes, one of the basic tenants of Catholicism is that all life is worthy and that Catholics should always be open to new life. Thus, the rules against contraception, abortion and sterilization. All of which the Obama Administration is going to force Catholic institutions to pay for under the Affordable Care Act.

    What Catholics do as individuals has no bearing on the teachings of the Church itself. That I didn’t feel that I could talk the talk if I couldn’t walk the walk was a personal decision between me and my conscience. Others can have mileage that may vary, given the nature of free will.

  51. David M says:

    @Moderate Mom: As a slightly different example, the LDS Church owns radio stations, television stations and newspapers. Why should those employees be exempted from these rules?

  52. Steve V says:

    Commenting a little late here, but according to HHS and news coverage the federal regulations under discussion follow the majority of state regulations that the Catholic Church and other institutions have been dealing with for many years. Also, existing plans get grandfathered in. How can the administration’s actions be discussed without context like this? You think they just dreamed up a scheme to put the screws to the Catholic Church for no reason, or something?

  53. Curtis says:

    All I have noticed from the announcements the last two weeks is yet a further eroding of the moral stature of the Council of Bishops. The congregation is far beyond contraception, and the sense I got from the conversations I was around is that we’d wish the bishops would quit fighting the battles of the 70’s.

  54. Justin Christian says:

    As to the issue in question Doug has a right to hold his position, the Roman Catholic Church and the Obama Administration the right to hold theirs. CNN, Peggy Noonan, & David Friedman have the right to hold their positions and the commentators tied to this articles’ comment thread the right to hold theirs. Each holds their position strongly but, assuming no devolution to anarchy, at some point all appeals will be exhausted and all positions will pale to the position that informs the rule of law. Those who are truly noble desire that the prevailing position will be the one supported by the best reasons and not the one fueled with tons of flaming emotion.

    With that said I assert that the issue at hand is a sideshow; an important sideshow but a sideshow nonetheless. The real show is the issue of abortion. The Roman Catholic Church believes contraception is wrong but it believes that abortion is a wrong of a higher order. Why? Because abortion is murder (preservation of the ‘physical’ life of the mother being the only exception); murder of the worst kind; murder of the most innocent among us. President Obama is an ideological abortionist of the highest order; his track record provides ample verification of this fact. That anyone would trust him when it comes to support for pro-life issues demonstrates that pure naivete does exist.

    The Roman Catholic Church has no ecclesiastical clout when it comes to President Obama; he’s not a Catholic. But Senator Pelosi is; Senator Ted Kennedy was. The Christian Church is commanded to show love. The Church must never condone abortion but it must show understanding and concern. It must show love for those who succumb to extreme situations and easy access, believe abortion is their only option and become party to the taking of an innocent life. However, the Roman Catholic Church must never tolerate those who claim Catholicism while holding high position and from that high position supporting the abortion lobby. Roman Catholic Church take the necessary steps to clean your house. Start majoring on the majors. If you do then your people will have renewed respect for your leadership and then politicians will resist slapping you in the face.

    End of comment. End of story.

  55. An Interested Party says:

    With that said I assert that the issue at hand is a sideshow; an important sideshow but a sideshow nonetheless.

    On the contrary…if birth control was more widely used, then women might have fewer abortions…but if any institution is going to take the position that birth control itself is a “sin”…well, I guess the irony is probably lost on all those men in Vatican City…

  56. Lana says:

    [Hi Outside: Latch on to this goodie – what my eyes spotted on the never-boring web!]

    POTENTATE AND HOTENTATE OBAMA

    The Bible describes high-living hypocrites like the lowlifes in the White House:
    Proverbs 19:10 (NIV): “It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury – how much worse for a slave to rule over princes!”
    Also Proverbs 30:22 (NIV) which says that the earth cannot bear up under “a servant who becomes king.”
    And Ecclesiastes 5:2-3 (KJV) advises: “let thy words be few…a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.”
    Although Obama is not descended from slaves, he may feel that he’s destined to become a black-slavery avenger.
    Or maybe an enslaver of all free citizens!
    For some stunning info on Pres. Obama and his fellow traitors, Google “‘Madam’ Nancy Pelosi’s Brothel,” “Imam Bloomberg’s Sharia Mosque,” “Michelle Obama’s Allah-day,” “Obama Supports Public Depravity,” “David Letterman’s Hate Etc.,” “Un-Americans Fight Franklin Graham” and also “Sandra Bernhard, Larry David, Kathy Griffin, Bill Maher, Joan Rivers, Sarah Silverman.” Also Google “Islam will purify Jews and Christians” and “Prof. F. N. Lee’s ISLAM IN THE BIBLE [PDF].”
    Since Christians are commanded to ask God to send severe judgment on persons who commit and support the worst forms of evil (see I Cor. 5 and note “taken away”), Christians everywhere should constantly pray that the Lord will soon “take away” or at least overthrow all US leaders (including subversive, America-hating, Jesus-bashing Hollywood shmucks) who continue to sear their conscience, who dangle every unspeakably filthy vice before young people, and who arrogantly trample the God-given rights of the majority including the rights of the unborn. Do we need a second American Revolution?
    After the Obamas are kicked out of the White House, there will be no place on earth where they can escape from scowling folks who wish to belatedly express their gratitude, in tangible ways, to the Obamas who tried to destroy the greatest nation ever.
    For the record I’ll predict that after the Nov. 2012 election, Obama will try something so unthinkably insane that he will be physically restrained and locked up – and remember where you heard this first!

  57. Justin Christian says:

    @An Interested Party: AIP, I’m not entirely clear as to how you’re directing your “On the contrary…” at my quote. Seems that you are implying that the ‘contraceptives’ issue IS center stage and not sideshow. Your support is this: widespread contraceptive use [(implied)> might lead to fewer pregnancies which <(implied)] might lead to fewer abortions. Since you omitted the implied portion it follows that your focus is on fewer abortions and not on fewer pregnancies. Therefore, in the end, you are agreeing with me: abortion is center stage. Since you can’t have it both ways then either rethink your logic or show me where I’m getting it wrong.

    Hey AIP, why do you care about fewer abortions? If those ‘out to lunch’ men in Vatican City didn’t get God right, the part about abortion unjustifiably taking the life of a human (normally called murder), then let there be abortions many or abortions few – it makes no difference. If there is no recognizable divine standard then when it comes to issues of morality my choice is as good (or bad; who’s to say?; the government, the church, my aunt Sally?) as yours.

  58. An Interested Party says:

    @Lana: Sadly, those biblical quotes could describe that old German who sits in the Vatican…

    @Justin Christian: It is really is quite obvious…for those who want to see fewer abortions, they should be championing more widespread use of contraception…the two issues are interconnected…oh, and my point about mentioning those men in the Vatican isn’t that they got their abortion view wrong, but they certainly got their contraception view wrong…that is, if they would like to see fewer abortions…

  59. Justin Christian says:

    @An Interested Party: AIP, now that I more fully understand your view I can better respond.

    Few reasonable beings (not sure how to categorize the ‘abortion business’ people because more procedures means more money – nothing wrong with more money) would argue with this (essentially your) evaluation: decreasing the overall number of abortions is a good thing. Few reasonable beings would argue with this (essentially your) logic: more widespread use of effective contraceptive methods leads to fewer abortions. Linking the previous two statements together leads to this (essentially your) position: we want fewer abortions; contraceptives move us this direction; push contraception.

    You have no problem holding your position because either you have no problem with contraception or you do have a problem with contraception but the end justifies the means.

    The Roman Catholic Church has a problem with your position because it believes that contraception is wrong and because it will not allow a good end justify a wrong means. Because the Church does this you cast their leaders as either simpletons or tyrants, unable or unwilling to deal with the obvious. Your disdain for ‘those Vatican men’ is quite apparent. While I cannot agree with all that the RCC teaches I greatly admire those who hold to their principles in the face of stiff opposition.

    By the way AIP, your writing seems to indicate that ‘those Vatican men’ may be somewhat right when they put forth their views on abortion. Certainly you and they have some measure of common ground: you believe that the number of abortions should decline somewhat while they believe that the number should decline to zero. My question to you, AIP, is what is the number that will satisfy you as being low enough?

  60. An Interested Party says:

    @Justin Christian: Hmm…do you ever question any of the positions of the Roman Catholic Church as being presented because the end justifies the means?

    That an overwhelming majority of Catholic women use birth control only serves to illustrate how unrealistic the RCC’s position is–that sex is only appropriate for procreation, especially as this position may very well lead to more abortions, actions that are far more destructive than having sex simply for pleasure, which leads to your final question…I would certainly prefer if there were no abortions, but it is understandable why women would want to have them, particularly in cases of rape or if the mother’s life were at stake…

    While I cannot agree with all that the RCC teaches I greatly admire those who hold to their principles in the face of stiff opposition.

    Ahh, so you feel the same about, say, abortion doctors in Kansas?