White House to announce “accommodation” on contraception mandate UPDATED

Compromise not expected to satisfy bishops, however

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 insurance.

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 both sides.

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 insurance companies. 

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.

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About Catherine Harmon 577 Articles
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.