Obama’s Contraception Compromise — Gimmick or Legit Solution

Remember the election problem Obama was said to have had regarding the “contraception issue.” So grave was the problem that it was thought Catholic opposition alone had the potential to swing the election. Of course, none of that speculation was even close, as it turned out.

Apparently, Obama does a better job behind closed doors than he’s given credit. Assuring Catholic Bishops that a compromise they could live with would be reached seemed an insurmountable challenge at the time. Although conservatives still rail against Obama’s latest compromise as “a gimmick,” their position isn’t getting much traction –a solution seems imminent.

Check out the following coverage, compiled by the Kaiser Health News.

Los Angeles Times: A Better Approach To Religious Employers And Contraception
The Obama administration released the final details Friday of the exemption it will provide religious-affiliated employers from the requirement to include free birth control in employees’ insurance policies. Not surprisingly, the announcement didn’t seem to mollify any of the critics who’d been arguing that the exemption was inadequate. That’s true in part because the critics don’t believe the exemption will function the way the administration has said it will. I think they’re wrong, but I also think the administration should have taken a much different tack to resolve the dispute (Jon Healey, 2/1).

The Washington Post: From Obama, An Olive Branch To The Catholic Church On Contraception Coverage
The decision, the administration’s second attempt at compromise, ought to be taken by the nation’s Catholic bishops as the victory it is. Many of the country’s most prominent prelates are inclined to do just that — even if the most conservative bishops seem to want to keep the battle raging. But more importantly, the final HHS rules are the product of a genuine and heartfelt struggle over the meaning of religious liberty in a pluralistic society. The contraception dispute was difficult because legitimate claims and interests were in conflict (E.J. Dionne Jr., 2/1).

The New York Times: A Good Compromise On Contraception
The Obama administration has proposed a sensible way to provide women who work for religiously affiliated institutions with free coverage of contraceptives while exempting the organizations they work for from financial or administrative obligations to provide the coverage. For the past year, the administration has been battered by lawsuits and denunciations from religious conservatives that its health care reforms violate religious liberties by requiring employers to provide free birth control coverage even if the employers have moral objections. Those attacks were designed to try to discredit the health care reform law and hurt President Obama politically by portraying him, falsely, as an opponent of religious freedom (2/1).

—Tom Finn


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