This afternoon, President Obama acknowledged the mounting controversy resulting from his mandate that religiously-affiliated institutions had to cover contraceptives for their employees. The change is that these employees now can get free birth control from health insurance companies.
“Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services no matter where they work. That core principle remains,” he said from the White House briefing room.
Here’s what the critics had to say about the change:
In the face of a misleading and outrageous assault on women’s health, the Obama administration has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring all women will have access to birth control coverage, with no costly co-pays, no additional hurdles, and no matter where they work
President Obama did today what he should have done at the very beginning: He honored the fact that religious groups, including the Catholic Church, had legitimate religious liberty claims in the battle over a contraception mandate under the new health care law. And he did so while still holding to his commitment to expanding contraception coverage as broadly as possible.
With President Obama’s Friday afternoon announcement, it just got settled once and for all. But one party may still not be happy: the Catholic bishops…The only losers right now are the Catholic bishops, who have become increasingly marginalized within society and even within the church. When the White House cares more about what a simple Catholic sister — Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association — thinks than about what the bishops think, Catholic women can applaud. Perhaps the crack in the patriarchy is becoming a deep canyon.
The fun part of this is that Obama just pulled a fast one on Republicans. He drew this out for two weeks, letting Republicans work themselves into a frenzy of anti-contraception rhetoric, all thinly disguised as concern for religious liberty, and then created a compromise that addressed their purported concerns but without actually reducing women’s access to contraception, which is what this has always been about.
What do you think about the outcome of the controversy? Does this seem like a solution that will be palatable to employees of religiously-affiliated institutions and those institutions?