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Nov 25 2011

Obama to Cave on Contraception?

Reproductive Health Reality Check reports that President Obama may well cave in to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops soon and withdraw regulations that are part of the health care reform bill requiring insurance companies to provide birth control without a co-pay.

Women’s groups working to save coverage of women’s health care under health reform are concerned that President Obama will cave as early as this weekend to demands by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (all 271 men) to eliminate coverage of birth control without a co-pay.

The reason? The President thinks he “owes” the Bishops for help with passage of health reform…

This is a tax on women. Birth control without insurance coverage can run as much as $600.00 per year. Without consistent access to birth control, women face constant risk of unintended pregnancy, abrogating their fundamental rights to plan their families and make decisions about how many children to have and when; to decide about their own educational and economic paths; to safeguard their own and their family’s health. Such a tax will of course fall most heavily on low-income women, and therefore most heavily on Latina, African American, and Native American women who already make up a disproportionate share of this economic group.

This is a tax on women, one many groups expect the President may levy as soon as this weekend… because, you know, a holiday weekend is the best time to engage in an act of capitulation and have it get less press attention.

I don’t really buy the notion that this is a tax; it isn’t paid to the government, after all, it’s paid to insurance companies. But that’s not terribly relevant to the real issue here. Access to birth control is an absolutely crucial aspect of preventative health care. I hope they’re wrong about Obama caving, but I wouldn’t bet against it. He’s been mostly invertebrate up to this point.

20 comments

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  1. 1
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    *sigh* I wouldn’t be surprised if he did cave… Gotta pretend that atheists don’t exist in this country and follow the orders of the Catholic Church…

  2. 2
    raven

    That would be a stupid move.

    1. 98% of the relevant Catholic women use birth control. This is an area where the membership just completely ignores the fossilized priest leadership.

    2. The US Catholic church has lost 1/3 of its membership lately. They aren’t nearly as powerful as they pretend to be. The members are leaving by the millions and no one pays any attention to the priests.

    3. The anti-BC position is silly any way. It’s just something a Pope made up and quite recently too.

    I would however give the priests an out. No priest would be required to obtain a policy which provides birth control without a co-pay.”.

  3. 3
    Pierce R. Butler

    Your headline is two words and a punctuation mark too long.

  4. 4
    raven

    If Obama really wants to play invertebrate, he could just let Catholic women opt out of the birth control with no pay provisions.

    That should make the bishops happy.

    There are only 40 million Catholics in a population of 310 million. I don’t see why the tail should wag the dog.

    As a nonCatholic and nonxian, I could care less what they think I should do. It’s not their business and not their concern.

  5. 5
    reverendrodney

    Will Obama cave? Oh, please! You may as well ask if the pope wears a beanie.

  6. 6
    lofgren

    I don’t think that the article is using the word “tax” literally. The point is just that somebody is going to pay for the birth control, because the alternative is dangerous and punitive to women.

    Sexually active women “benefit” the men they are having sex with, yet the burden of doing that responsibly falls disproportionately on the women. Calling that a tax seems fair to me.

  7. 7
    Daniel Fincke

    They’re going to defend the health care law as a tax to the Supreme Court.

  8. 8
    Ophelia Benson

    OH fucking hell. The USCCB are the officially-celibate men who think women should die rather than abort a fetus that will not survive in any case, and who impose that murderous view on hospitals under Catholic control. No president should EVER give in to them on anything for any reason. Murderous bastards.

  9. 9
    Aquaria

    Good ol’ Obama, giving away the store, in the name of “bipartisanship.”

    You have the stupid bill already. Tell these old kiddie-rapers in skirts to fuck off, who gives a shit what they think?

    You know why they supported this bill? Because they’re rubbing their hands in glee at getting even more government money to prop up their kiddie-rape empire.

  10. 10
    jakc

    Does PZ know that you think “invertebrate” is an insult?

  11. 11
    Chris from Europe

    I wonder how he perceives himself at this point. (Whether the reality has gotten through to him yet.)

  12. 12
    Fred5

    Reproductive Health Reality Check reports that President Obama may well cave in to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops soon and withdraw regulations that are part of the health care reform bill….

    Now, maybe I am being a little obtuse concerning the powers of the presidency, but if the requirement that contraceptives be available without copay is part of the health care reform bill that Congress passed and Obama signed into law, how can Obama unilaterally withdraw that mandate? It would seem to me that Obama would have to go back to Congress and ask them to pass an amendment to the law that removes the section that mandates this.

    More simply put, when did Obama gain the power to bypass Congress and directly legislate new laws?

    I am probably missing something here but that’s what it looks like to me.

  13. 13
    Chris from Europe

    @fred5
    Well, I would assume gives him enough leeway. I thought that in respect to most laws that have to be implemented by the executive there is always some leeway for an administration.

  14. 14
    TCC

    fred5: It isn’t part of the PPACA, per se, but the Obama administration announced back in August that they were going to designate birth control as preventative care (along with some other things), which would then bring it under the auspices of the act. If HHS rescinds that policy, then insurance companies won’t be required to cover it without a copay.

  15. 15
    Pinky

    Obama should look back into history and study the rewards of appeasement vs doing-the-right-thing.

  16. 16
    Fred5

    @The Christian Cynic (#14)

    Thanks for the information. Unfortunately what you say makes sense
    though it really amazes me that Obama can be such a hypocrite when the PPACA explicitly includes Section 2526.

    SEC. 2526. HEALTHY TEEN INITIATIVE TO PREVENT TEEN PREGNANCY.

    (b) USE OF FUNDS.—Amounts received by a State under this section shall be used to conduct or support evidence-based education programs (directly or through grants or contracts to public or private nonprofit entities, including schools and community-based and faith-based organizations) to reduce teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.

    (i) DEFINITION.—In this section, the term ‘evidence-based’ means based on a model that has been found, in methodologically sound research—
    (1) to delay initiation of sex;
    (2) to decrease number of partners;
    (3) to reduce teen pregnancy;
    (4) to reduce sexually transmitted infection
    rates; or
    (5) to improve rates of contraceptive use.

    I wonder how Obama is going to spin that one to the USCCB.

  17. 17
    tonylurker

    E. J. Dionne Jr. has a good commentary on this issue in the Wash Post:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/obamas-challenge-with-catholics-and-health-care/2011/11/23/gIQAHLqCqN_story.html

    Basically, the controversy is more about a overly narrow religious exemption.

  18. 18
    FlickingYourSwitch

    He’s the president. Always referred to as “the most powerful man in the world.” Well, let’s see it then. He should do all kinds of good and necessary things and punch Republicans in the face if they’re trying to stop him.

  19. 19
    Ing

    @FlickingYourSwitch

    Sounds like scenes from a parallel universe’s Thompson/Burroughs presidency.

  20. 20
    Dr X

    Well, the bishops are kind of right. The New Testament gives authority over hoo hoos and the sacred pee pee seeds to the closeted gay magic men.

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