It is almost impossible to believe that in this 21st century there is any credible public debate over the propriety of sexually-active women using birth control. Of course, as we know, this is against official Roman Catholic doctrine and the Roman Church is currently ready, organized and eager to do battle over the issue. (Let us not forget that we are in a Presidential election year in which conservative forces are lining up every conceivable constituency on every issue imaginable to force the Democrats out of the White House and the Congress.)
The NYTimes has given extensive space to this issue. They’ve thrown their senior columnists into the discussion and, today, the paper even gave the story prominent front page news space [Here] before the President announced at noon today a so-called compromise. [Here] The Washington Post [Here] and the Los Angeles Times [Here] both reported the Presidential “compromise” that at first glance looks far more like a Catholic Bishop’s triumph than an administration’s accommodation to religious conviction.
Under the “compromise,” women, who are employed in Roman Catholic-affiliated hospitals, will not have to pay out-of-pocket moneys for contraception, but will be offered, free-of-charge, coverage by the institution’s health insurer. Also, the Catholic institutions will not be mandated to pay for something they have profound religious convictions against. It’s a win/win situation. Women will not have to pay extra for birth control protection and the Catholic institutions will not have to pay for something they do not believe in.
Yes, everyone gets what each wants, but we do not walk away without some lessons learned. The Conference of Catholic Bishops can slap a triumphant high five--and I’m certain that they did. It appears that they faced down Obama who blinked. (This is a particularly big win for them on a week-end when the conservative CPAC-2012 is meeting in D.C.) The women in Catholic-affiliated institutions should also be very happy because they will be entitled to free birth control coverage, offered to them by their employer’s insurance company.
Obama, too, should be pleased to be momentarily freed from the controversy. Women get the contraception that they want (and need), the Catholic Church will not have to pay a dime for coverage for something that their church leaders profess they do not believe in and the insurance companies will pick up the tab.
It should be asked: why aren't the insurance companies complaining? As was proven with a similar plan in Hawaii, the insurance companies will actually save money in the long run because contraception will prevent the additional costs of unwanted births and other related medical expenses unprotected women might have incurred.
I must inject a question here: if this fine solution was waiting in the wings, why wasn’t it trotted out long ago? Why did the WH wait until the political waters were boiling and frothing? I guess we might get some answers in the next few days, but it sounds like political ineptitude to me.
By the way, that other noise you hear is from women scrambling to get out from under the bus where they had been briefly tossed.