ABC's Jake Tapper is reporting that later today the White House will announce an "accommodation" on its mandate requiring employers to offer insurance coverage for contraception. It doesn't look like the move will be the end of the showdown between the US bishops and the Obama administration, however:
The move, based on state models, will almost certainly not satisfy
bishops and other religious leaders since it will preserve the goal of
women employees having their birth control fully covered by health
Sources say it will be respectful of religious beliefs
but will not back off from that goal, which many religious leaders
oppose since birth control is in violation of their religious beliefs.
One source familiar with the decision described the accommodation as
“Hawaii-plus,” insisting that it’s better than the Hawaii plan for
In Hawaii the employer is responsible for referring employees to
places where they can obtain the contraception; Catholic leaders call
that material cooperation with evil. But what the White House will
likely announce later today is that the relationship between the
religious employer and the insurance company will not need to have any
component involving contraception. The insurance company will reach out
on its own to the women employees. This is better for both sides, the
source says, since the religious organizations do not have to deal with
medical care to which they object, and women employees will not have to
be dependent upon an organization strongly opposed to that care in order
to obtain it.
Yesterday Bishop William Lori, chairman of the USCCB's Committee for Religious Liberty released this statement explaining why the US bishops consider the Hawaii plan unacceptable:
If such a solution were proposed, it would not address the basic problem--that
of the law forcing religious entities into actions they consider
immoral. The Church cannot, even reluctantly, provide information, make
arrangements for, facilitate, counsel or instruct people on how to
obtain these immoral procedures. To do so would be to participate in the
violation of the moral law and thus to act against conscience.
UPDATE: The president has made his announcement:
The change would make the insurance
companies, and not religious employers, responsible. Women would still
have access to birth control without co-pays -- but religious schools
and hospitals could refuse to cover it, passing the onus to the
The change was described by a senior adviser
as an "accommodation" -- but advisers said the announcement does not
represent a "compromise."
Planned Parenthood approves.
Yuval Levin is unimpressed.