With a divided White House staff having weighed in publicly on the issue, President Obama announced today in a press conference a compromise that both Planned Parenthood and the Catholic Health Association approved of regarding employee coverage for contraception.
The compromise would allow for women to obtain birth control directly from their insurance companies rather than requiring religious institutions like Catholic hospitals and universities to provide free contraception.
Vice President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, both Catholics, were very opposed to the initial proposal of requiring Catholic institutions to provide free contraception. At issue was whether employers should be required to broaden the scope of their coverage to include medication or procedures that violate some of their core tenants. While proponents of such a measure argue that Catholic hospitals and universities employ many non-Catholics, opponents argue that the employees are aware they are working for a Catholic institution with a Catholic mission. Also, many of the hospitals and universities in the United States are private or religiously affiliated, and would not want such mandates as part of their health coverage for their employees. Such a requirement may significantly change the dynamic of health care employers.
While their has been a massive backlash by various organizations against this law and the administration for its support of it, the Obama administration has recently voiced its confidence that the issue would be resolved. Other lawmakers, such as Senator John Kerry, also a Catholic and opposed to the mandate, believed it would be resolved. Today, President Obama announced that a compromise had been reached, but time will tell whether the debate will continue and whether all parties will be satisfied. While proponents of the language believe that President Obama has once again caved to the right, and in this case the religious right, Catholic Bishops and other organizations may decide that the compromise does not go far enough.
Posted by Attorney Saif R. Kasmikha
Midwest Legal Partners, LLC