Under the headline “Contraceptive mandate could face tough sledding in Supreme Court” the LA Times is reporting:
The Supreme Court and the Obama administration, already headed for a face-off in March over the constitutionality of the healthcare law, appear to be on another collision course over whether church-run schools, universities, hospitals and charities must provide free contraceptives to their students and employees.
The dispute stems from one of the more popular parts of the new healthcare law: its requirement that all health plans provide “preventive services” for free. That category includes vaccines and such routine screenings as cholesterol checkups and mammograms. Starting this year, it also includes coverage of birth control pills, IUDs and other contraceptives.
Catholic leaders reacted fiercely when the administration announced in recent days that it would hold most religious institutions to that mandate, even those that have moral and religious objections to what some of their lawyers describe as “abortion-inducing drugs.”
Already two religious colleges have sued, and their cause got a major boost earlier this month from a unanimous Supreme Court decision that greatly expanded the definition of religious freedom.
Personally, I’m optimistic that this is going to get overturned. The policy is so bad that it’s only a question of who will reverse it. Several options spring to mind. Will it be the next Republican administration? The Supreme Court? Congress? The Obama administration itself?
This will not stand.
The policy is so bad, and so certain to be reversed, that I have difficulty understanding why the Obama administration would pursue it. The jackbooted, “jam it down your throat” approach that the Obama administration has taken in this is shocking. It’s a real, “What were they thinking?” situation.
I’m still trying to figure that out. Is this to be chalked up simply to incompetence (e.g., not realizing the kind of pushback this would create) or is it to be chalked up to conscious, deliberate evil—the same kind of disturbing, jackbooted, Orwellian authoritarianism that the Obama administration displayed in its bid to tell churches who they must hire as ministers (the case that the Supreme Court just slapped down 9-0). Or maybe it was a combination of incompetence and evil, with different members of the Obama administration displaying different degrees of those two vices.
Maybe they think that this would please the base in a way that would get the more votes.
I mean, if you’re already mandating free contraceptives for virtually the whole population then you’ve got about all the bounce from your base that you are going to get. Forcing Catholic schools, hospitals, and charities offer free contraceptives to those they provide insurance to is going to create a lot of bad press, and simply allowing a religious conscience exception for those institutions would allow you to have the same base bounce without the bad press. It’s impossible to see how you would get more votes out of this. By making yourselves look like jackbooted totalitarians you are going to get fewer votes—if for no other reason that you have revealed your naked antipathy to the Catholic faith and will make it all the more difficult for squishy Catholics to rationalize voting for you.
Sure, way too many Catholics accept contraception, but there’s a difference between not-agreeing-with-Church-teaching and wanting-to-see-one’s-Church-coerced-into-violating-its-teachings, and there’s certainly a difference between undertaking a policy that will allow squishy Catholics to continue to support you and forcing the leaders of their Church into a position where they will start actively campaigning against your policy.
The timing is even worse, with Pope Benedict ramping up religious liberty as a key concern, and focusing in particular on religious liberty in the United States by lighting a fire under the American bishops in the current series of ad limina talks.
This is just bad politics, and it will hurt them more than help them in the next election.
That’s no way to “Win The Future”!
If they understand that, then what is the reason behind the move?
I’ve heard some speculate that it’s part of a grand gambit to destroy Catholic healthcare in America by creating more and more lines Catholic hospitals will not cross, forcing them to either give up their Catholic identity or go out of business.
Or maybe it’s part of a one-presidential-term-used-to-achieve-maximum-societal-transformation-leading-to-a-secular-totalitarian-America plot.
Or maybe they think they’re doing some kind of too-clever-by-half thing of creating a policy that they know will be reversed but will still leave their larger goals in place (free contraceptives for almost everyone).
Frankly, I don’t know what they think that they’re doing.
They still need lots of pushback, though, so be sure to HEED THE U.S. BISHOPS’ URGENT ACTION ALERT (CLICK HERE).
In the meantime: What do you think they’re trying to do?