First - a report was trotted out that said it would be wonderful to have free contraception for all women. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said they were looking into it. I knew at that point they would push it and I posted my thoughts about it. They did.
Second - HHS announced new proposed guidelines to radically change contraceptive coverage by requiring all insurance agencies to cover it, with the exceptions being so narrow, they hardly exist. This is a trampling of the freedom of religious groups.
Third - The US Bishops called for urgent action, knowing this was coming. But, they also knew there was little we could do to stop it, because it was a foregone conclusion. Yet they still called said it “represents an unprecedented attack on religious liberty”.
We repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” so that every single American can serve their country, regardless of who they love. (Applause.) And, yes, we passed health care reform because no one in America should go bankrupt because somebody in their family gets sick. (Applause.)
Insurance companies can’t drop your coverage for no good reason. They won’t be able to deny your coverage because of preexisting conditions. Think about what that means for families all across America. Think about what it means for women.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Birth control --
THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely. You’re stealing my line. (Applause.) Breast cancer, cervical cancer are no longer preexisting conditions. No longer can insurance companies discriminate against women just because you guys are the ones who have to give birth. (Laughter.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Darn right!
THE PRESIDENT: Darn tooting. (Laughter.) They have to cover things like mammograms and contraception as preventive care, no more out-of-pocket costs. And while it will take a couple of years for all the reforms to fully take place, already we’ve got seniors all across the country who have gotten $250 to help them pay for their prescription drug benefit. And nearly 1 million young adults already have health insurance because of it -- 1 million more young people. That’s an incredible achievement. The Affordable Care Act is working. (Applause.)You might say to yourself, "what is the big deal?" Well, CNS has the story about how even JESUS HIMSELF WOULDN'T BE EXEMPTED:
"Under such inexplicably narrow criteria -- criteria bearing no reasonable relation to any legitimate (let alone compelling) government purpose -- even the ministry of Jesus and the early Christian church would not qualify as 'religious,' because they did not confine their ministry to their co-religionists or engage only in a preaching ministry," the USCCB comments said.
"The government has no business engaging in religious gerrymanders, whereby some churches are 'in' and others are 'out' for regulatory purposes based on who their teaching calls them to serve, how they constitute their workforce or whether they engage in 'hard-nosed proselytizing,'" the attorneys added.
They said it is "blatantly unconstitutional" to treat religious denominations or organizations differently because some are "so to speak, insular in their workplace and ministry" and others "have a missionary outlook."
"Church agencies with the temerity (in the government's view) to hire and serve persons other than their own members are penalized by the HHS exemption or, alternatively, forced to fire nonmembers and withdraw from or limit public service," they said. "Such a forced choice is offensive, discriminatory and unconstitutional."
The USCCB also said in its comments that the HHS contraceptive mandate violates the Weldon amendment, certain provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Obama administration's public statements about coverage of abortion, because the contraceptives that must be covered include ella, which can cause abortions.
It also "targets Catholics for special disfavor 'sub silentio' and therefore violates both the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment," the comments said.Does this upset you? It certainly upsets me and the US Bishops as well.