Is Obama caving on, or widening, the contraception mandate?

Leave it to the Obama administration to muddy up the waters even more.

From a March 16 story at

In a move that is likely to reignite the ire of religious leaders, late Friday afternoon the Obama administration announced a proposal that would require universities, including religious universities, to provide contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs to their students, as well as their employees, without a co-pay. This appears to significantly widen the originally-announced HHS mandate, which had only applied to employees.

The White House released the 32-page proposal late Friday afternoon.... Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said she found it unusual the announcement came as part of a Friday news dump on the eve of St. Patrick's Day.  'I am surprised that such important information would be announced late Friday of St. Patrick's Day Weekend and as we prepare for the fourth Sunday of Lent,' she said....

Well, I, for one, am not surprised.  Nor are many others, I'm sure.  And, of course, the usual suspects in the abortion industry are delighted to hear of this development.

Oh, lest I forget ... the ever-so-gracious Obama administration is allowing the public to "comment" on the proposal for the next 90 days.  How nice.

Interestingly, the leftist National Catholic Reporter, also on March 16, had a different take on the proposal:

Taking a conciliatory tone and asking for a wide range of public comment, the Obama administration announced this afternoon new accommodations on a controversial mandate requiring contraceptive coverage in health care plans.

Coming after a month of continued opposition from the U.S. bishops to the mandate, which was first revised in early February to exempt certain religious organizations, today's announced changes from the Department of Health and Human Services make a number of concessions, including allowing religious organizations that self-insure to be made exempt.  Also raised is the possibility that the definition given for religious employers in the original mandate could be changed....

I would imagine that, in the coming days, we'll have a clearer idea about what the administration is trying to do here.

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