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Second front attacks ‘Obamacare’

By Jay MacDonald ·
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Posted: 10 am ET

As President Barack Obama's historic health care reform inches toward its final exam before the Supreme Court next month, a second front led by leaders of the Catholic Church has been growing against the Affordable Care Act.

Unlike the legal challenge by 26 states to the act's "individual mandate" that requires all Americans to purchase health insurance beginning in 2014, the bishops are actually demanding expansion of an accommodation in the act called the "refusal clause" that exempts them from including contraceptives and family planning services in their employee health insurance plans.

In December, Bishop Robert Lynch, leader of nearly a half-million Tampa Bay Catholics, vowed that unless the legislation is changed, his diocese will no longer provide health insurance to its 2,300 employees, and instead would pay employees cash to seek out their own health coverage, which is allowed under the law. The diocese's existing health plans do not cover contraceptives, sterilization or drugs such as Viagra.

Last week, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would effectively allow any employer with religious objections to avoid covering contraception in its health insurance plan.

"From a practical standpoint, this will force Catholic organizations to make an unacceptable choice: ignore a major tenet of their faith or not provide any insurance to their employees and be punished with a federal fine for violating 'Obamacare's' mandate on employers," Rubio wrote in an op-ed piece in the New York Post last Friday.

White House spokesman Jay Carney defended the refusal clause, noting that 28 states currently require insurers to cover the cost of contraceptives, and that requirements in California, New York and North Carolina are identical to those in the act. Insurance laws in Colorado, Georgia and Wisconsin have no exemptions for religious institutions, Carney added.

Political agendas aside, this second front has rekindled two ongoing cultural debates: the separation of church and state, and a woman's right to manage her own body.

What do you think? Should employers be allowed to opt out of covering contraceptives in their health plans on religious grounds?

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March 07, 2012 at 7:24 pm

This is a contrived issue by democrats. It is completely about the first Amendment. Women's health is NOT the issue. We lived with it this way all this time, now all of a sudden birth control is a human right. It is absurd, nothing but a phony issue.

Sheila Conrads
March 07, 2012 at 6:28 pm

When I was young my little family couldn't afford health care. I bought my own contraception. My husband finally paid for his own vascectomy. I think all insurance has done is jack the price up for everything. Insurance companies should cross state lines and be more competitive. Why do some woman think everything is there right? As far as other countries paying for health care, why are Canadians always coming here for health care? This country pays for cheap drugs for the rest of the world. Europe is going broke, why? Too much government paying for health retirement etc. Do we really want to be Greece?

March 06, 2012 at 6:25 pm

1. The catholic church pays NO taxes
2. THis is not about contraception, it's about women's healthcare
3. Why we continue this insane debate around the basic protections afforded a civilized/advanced society is beyond me
4. The "request" is non-governmental....don't make it so. It's basically part of most, if not all basic insurance coverage from the private sector.
5. The OVERWHELMING majority of Americans believe this entire debate is A. Ridciulous and B. SOme kind of smokescreen for the things that we REALLY care about

Walt Malley
March 06, 2012 at 5:27 pm

It's amazing the Catholics complain about birth control being forced upon them, but vote for democrats who are responsible for aborting millions of unborn every year. Go Figure!

Steve Bonser
March 06, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Gosh, wouldn't it be terrible if the people of the United States were to have health care considered a basic human right as is the case in the vast majority of modern industrialized nations? Clearly the insurance industry-run "system' in place is horribly inefficient, expensive and unworkable. Worst of all, the criminals profiting from selling health "insurance" have a bad habit of denying coverage precisely when individuals and families need it most. What will it take for the America people to wake up and demand VALUE for their hard work and tax dollars?

March 06, 2012 at 11:20 am

The Commerce Clause may be the Obama Administration's defense, but it does not apply to this situation. This is an unprecedented power grab on the part of the administration and a Democratically controlled Congress at the time of passage. And aside from that, does anyone remember those promises and exemptions given to various states? And has Sonia decided to recuse herself or not?

al pambuena
March 06, 2012 at 12:49 am

so far, those government laws, that are reducing our freedoms, increase everyday, and with the obama administration, there have been three times more laws, restrictions, and mandates, passed, then at the same time period of the bush administration. the health care law, is called the affordable care act, but the figures from the OMB, says the opposite, that this act is a growing financial time bomb, and will account for over, one-sixth, of our economy. as a result, there will never be enough taxes, or rich people to cover this. those czars, have been circumventing congress, with mandates, that cost the states billions, and at times, nobody knows about these laws, until after they are enacted.

Ronald Larson
March 05, 2012 at 10:41 pm

I hope and pray the this whole thing of his health care plan is wiped out and we can get back to kicking HIM out tooooo.

March 05, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Any Catholic who votes for Obama needs to find another church.
For that matter any Jew who votes for Obama needs to remember "Never Again"

March 04, 2012 at 11:41 pm

It's easy really, only one of these two, freedom of religion, is guaranteed by the constitution. Violate the 'right to contraception' it's not guaranteed ,nor is healthcare, but leave religion alone.