Current Weather
The Spy FM

Administration Stands Firm On Birth Control Coverage

Filed by KOSU News in Health.
January 20, 2012

Despite a furious lobbying effort by the Catholic Church, the Obama administration today said it won’t weaken new rules that will require most health insurance plans to offer women prescription contraceptives at no additional out-of-pocket cost.

The final version of the rules will give religious-based hospitals, universities, charities, and other organizations whose primary purpose is not religious, an additional year to come into compliance with the contraceptive requirement. Churches are exempt.

But even a face-to-face meeting in the Oval Office last November between President Obama and the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops failed to change the administration’s position to allow a broader exemption.

“This decision was made after very careful consideration, including the important concerns some have raised about religious liberty,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. “I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services.”

That is not, however, how the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sees it. “To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable,” said the group’s president, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, in a statement. “It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom.”

And the additional year? “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” Dolan said.

But while the bishops — and many of the Republican presidential candidates — have accused the Obama administation of waging a war on religion, women’s groups are hailing the decision.

“This is a health care issue,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood. “It was based on what’s good for women’s health.”

Richards also pointed out that, despite the bishops’ claims, many religious organizations currently offer birth control as a covered health benefit. “It hasn’t been an issue before,” she said.

The decision has broad ramifications. “Virtually all women from all religious backgrounds use contraception at some point in their lives to protect their health and plan their families and their lives,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s legislative office in Washington. “With today’s action, the administration refused to give religious employers the right to discriminate.”

But while the rules are now final, the bishops say the fight is not over. They are vowing to fight, in court if necessary, to have the administration’s decision overturned. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

5AM to 9AM Morning Edition

Morning Edition

For more than two decades, NPR's Morning Edition has prepared listeners for the day ahead with two hours of up-to-the-minute news, background analysis, commentary, and coverage of arts and sports.

Listen Live Now!

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

View the program guide!

10AM to 11PM On Point

On Point

On Point unites distinct and provocative voices with passionate discussion as it confronts the stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. Leaving no perspective unchallenged, On Point digs past the surface and into the core of a subject, exposing each of its real world implications.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center