WH to offer 'accommodation' on contraceptive rule

Reading this ABC News story by Jake Tapper on what the White House considers "accommodation" with Catholic bishiops, no one should get too excited about it.

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 relationshio 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 hostile to that care in order to obtain it.

This announcement would not go that far. Sources say it will involve health insurance companies helping to provide the coverage, since it's actually cheaper for these companies to offer the coverage than to not do so, because of unwanted pregnancies and resulting complications.

Basically, the White House is offering a sleight of hand solution, allowing Catholic organizations to deliberately turn the other way when insurance companies offer the coverage, thus "sparing" them the burden of having to offer it themselves. No dice. The bishops won't buy this transparently gimmicky solution that seeks to absolve them of responsibility when that is not what they want.

The Catholic church is not a democracy and the pope is considered God's representative on earth. Most Cathoics in America might not accept the teaching that the pope is infallible and thus, the church's edict against birth control is optional, rather than mandatory.

None of this is the point. It is a matter of conscience for millions of Catholics. And no matter how the White House wants to spin it, they can't get away from the fundamental truth that by mandating religious organizations deliberately violate their most sacred beliefs, they have altered the definition of religious freedom in America.

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