Obama Does Not Widen Religious Exemption for Contraceptive Mandate
"I'm not a Catholic but I stand in 100% solidarity with my brothers & sisters to practice their belief against govt pressure," Rick Warren tweeted. "I'd go to jail rather than cave in to a govement [sic] mandate that violates what God commands us to do. Would you? Acts 5:29."
The administration's January 20 decision to uphold but delay the implementation of the original mandate surprised many, including several people who had previously supported the health care bill.
The Becket Fund filed lawsuits on behalf of Colorado Christian University (an evangelical Protestant college), Belmont Abbey College (a Catholic college), and the Catholic media network EWTN.
"From what we've seen so far is, this is not a compromise," said Eric Baxter, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. "It looks more like a political decision to quell the issue before the election."
The administration reportedly made calculations to determine whether the mandate would impact Obama politically, pitting pro-choice supporters against Catholics, who are seen as a potential swing vote. Senior adviser David Plouffe, according to Politico, "concluded that the vast majority of Catholic voters, who don't adhere to the church's dictates on birth control anyway, wouldn't punish Obama for his decision."
Under the mandate, covered contraceptives would include ella and Plan B that work by making it unlikely that an embryo will be able to attach to the wall of the uterus, which many evangelicals consider abortifacients.
A recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that while 55 percent of Americans support a requirement that all businesses provide contraception coverage, only about a third support requiring church insurance plans to provide birth control.
"The good news, the White House is listening. It's a little late, but it's a start," said Leith Anderson, president of the NAE. But it's unclear whether the shift goes far enough. "I don't see a great deal of movement on the extension of the exemption. It's going to take until after the weekend to figure this out."
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Christianity Today reported how Protestants are increasingly joining Catholics in protesting the Health & Human Services mandate.
Your Insurance May Already Cover 'Abortion-Inducing Drugs' | Health and Human Services ruled last week that insurance plans must provide contraception with no copayment. (August 12, 2011)
Reforming Health Care Reform | How states are blocking abortion coverage. (June 29, 2010)
Health Care Reform Enacted—Now What? | Activists react to the new health care law and reignite a movement for immigration reform. (March 26, 2010)
CT covers more political developments on the politics blog.