Contraceptive coverage controversy
February 2nd, 2012
01:55 PM ET

Contraceptive coverage controversy

WASHINGTON (CNN) –The White House is pushing back on criticism of its decision requiring church-affiliated employers to provide no-cost contraceptive coverage including birth control as part of their health care plans.

“This decision was made after very careful consideration of the legal and policy points and we believe it strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious beliefs and approving access to services,” a senior administration official told reporters on a conference call Thursday afternoon.

That was a direct response to comments made by House Speaker John Boehner, who insisted the provision in the new health care law  “violates our Constitution.”

Speaker Boehner is now urging the administration to reconsider this controversial move.

“I would hope that the administration would back up and take another look at this,” he said.

But White House officials are showing no signs of backing down despite strong opposition from the Catholic Church.

“We aren’t here to make any new policy announcements or any changes,” another White House official said on the call.

Earlier this week White House spokesman Jay Carney acknowledged the criticism but stood by the process that led to the final decision.

“I understand that there’s controversy…and we will continue to work with religious groups to discuss their concerns,” he said. “But on the other side of this was the important need to provide access to women to the preventive services that they require.”

White House officials are also trying to shift the focus to other Catholics and religious groups who have publicly endorsed the decision.

Topics: Health care • The News • White House

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soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. Patriot Awesome

    I wonder if the Catholic church is against contraception because it will reduce the amount of children their priests can molest.

    February 2, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • arale norimaki

      if Church wants to engage in politics they should lose the tax exemption they now enjoy.

      February 2, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
      • Amen!

        100% right – preach it! I'm sick of these churches politicking on my taxpayer dime. The Obama administration did the right thing.

        February 2, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
      • Steveo

        If politics wants to engage in the church, they are violating the separation of church and state, right? Or does the government decide it can randomly pick and choice when to apply it? Can't have it both ways!

        February 2, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
      • Wrongo


        The law isn't directed at churches, but church run organizations are not above the law. This is about the church wanting exemption from offering care they don't support. The issue here is that they don't necessarily offer these services to just people of their religion. If they did, they do in fact have the exemption in question (to not offer birth control).

        In a way it's the church that is trying to force their beliefs on anyone receiving care, because their morals object to it.

        I see the point being made by both sides, I'd like to see a little more about the law before condemning either side. I do believe in freedom of religion, but having birth control available to those who want and need it is simply a necessity especially in our increasingly overcrowded world.

        There's one way to avoid having a bunch of unfit mothers with children standing in the welfare line... let them have birth control.

        February 2, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
      • Trace

        @Steveo, In Ronnie's famous words "...there you go again". If the church employs people, those people are bound by labor laws. Labor laws are within the scope of the local/federal government. Yes, its called "separation of church and state"....and if you have a read a bible you know that it says "...abide by the laws of the land"...So, are you trying to make the point that the church should have their own rules, when operating under the jurisdication of the governing body, be it local municipality, state or federal ?

        Do you see the problem here? Quite trying to make this about this administration trying to pick and choice what laws to enforce. Labor laws are within the purvue of the it or not. Otherwise the Pope should run this country and I don't agree with that because its against our constitution – right?

        February 3, 2012 at 3:21 am |
    • Howard

      Obama acts liike he's the pro-Hispanic candidate, while he and Holder kill over 200 innocent Mexicans with their stupid, careless Fast and Furious policy.

      February 2, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
      • KG

        Being Hispanic isn't the same as being Mexican. Hispanics can come from any numbers of countries, including the US. People born in Mexico are Mexican.

        February 3, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • Matt

      No THERE's an intellignet

      February 8, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  2. Cindy

    "White House officials are also trying to shift the focus to other Catholics and religious groups who have publicly endorsed the decision."

    Which Catholics have endorsed this?

    February 2, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • jean2009

      According to the Guttmacher Institute 98% of American Catholic women use some form of birth I would say the Church is not exactly preaching to the choir, and is only using this as a wedge issue which will place their own members at risk, should they be at such a disadvantage as to be working for a Church affiliated business. Who are the people wanting a "Nanny State" if it isn't the Catholic Church that wants male never-married priests dictating to married women?

      February 2, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
      • is that right?

        98% of Catholic women are using birth control? Wow does that include the nuns and the old ladies attend church everyday too? Never ceases to amaze me what people come up with.

        February 4, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • kyphi

      read the NPR report

      February 3, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  3. Kagee

    I've been following this story and I've yet to read or hear anyone say the employees are being forced to take contraceptives but just will now have fair and free access just like employees of other companies. Believe me, there are a lot of Catholics on birth control.

    February 2, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • jean2009

      So true!

      February 2, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • jerrylax

      so why the need for the federal govt to force this? Not very bright are you?

      February 2, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
      • KG

        It isn't too bright of you to point out that someone isn't bright when you don't know the difference between an "option" versus a "requirement." It's either that or your reading comprehension is lacking. The employees have the choice to take the contraceptive because they've asked for it. No one is making them take it.

        February 3, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • Matt

      Let me pose this scenario to you – if Barack Hussein Obama proposed legislation that violated a primary doctrine of Isalm, how do you think the Muslim americans would react and how quickly would the admistration back pedal? Just because there are Catholics who do use birth control and have had abortions does not make it moral or right. The Catholic Church has always stood for the rights of the unborn. Requiring Catholics to pay for others to have easier access to abortions is analogous to forcing someone to drive the get-away car at a robbery – no – they didn't commit the crime, but they were accomplices. If this initiative violated the belief system of Muslims there would be a much bigger backlash and the President would back off. Just becasue Catholics around the globe aren't screaming "death to the infidels" and carrying RPGs does not mean that their beliefs should be so completely disrespected.

      February 8, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  4. Jules

    Let me assure you as a former Catholic who went to confession, the priests listening to your confession don't care whether you use birth control or not. It is another issue on which the Catholic Church says one thing and does another. They have enough problems, they should just stay out of it. If they hire good Catholics it doesn't matter whether they have to offer the coverage or not – it won't be used. Right?

    February 2, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  5. Formerly a Catholic Democrat

    This isn't a contraception issue, it's a first amendment issue. As a Catholic who uses contraception I take issue with my faith's stance on contraception. That said, I take more issue with the President forcing members of my faith to violate their consciences. I find a lack of respect for the first amendment troubling. Also troubling is the amount of anti catholic bigotry being spewed by supporters of Obama on this issue, denigrating us as idiots and pedophiles. So much for tolerance in the democrat party.

    February 2, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • El Flaco

      No one is being forced to violate his conscience. No one is being forced to use birth control.

      Organizations don't have rights. Only people have rights.

      February 2, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • jean2009

      No one is asking a Catholic to violate their faith...if they do not want contraception then don't buy it; but if members of your faith (such as yourself) do feel they need contraception and want it available then it should be a part of their workplace insurance policy.

      What about non-members of your faith who work for that church affiliated business, are they to be denied insurance coverage for their needs just because the Church has deemed it something they do not want to cover on religious grounds?

      What every happened to every working individuals free will or free choice....or does the Church profess to take the place of a "nanny state" which supplies the believe and restraint for all their workers?

      February 2, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
      • jean2009

        sorry ...what ever happened to every.

        February 2, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
      • jerrylax

        how about letting people pay for their own the mandates they want...or just provide their own birth control? Why is it the govt has to force all of this on everyone? The tax payer has been providing birth control free for anyone who wants to get why this? There are clinics everywhere. I'll tell you, because this is vote pandering.

        Is this going to stop these mamas from popping out babies for welfare?

        February 2, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
      • Wrongo

        It certainly wouldn't hurt the idea of bringing down the number of children on welfare if contraception is covered.

        This isn't about a right to religion it's about insurance coverage for those who work for any employer. If that employer happens to be a religious institution, they don't get a pass because they don't believe in it.

        My mother worked for a church, she wasn't a member of said church, but she still worked there, in a kitchen at a retreat center that wasn't solely for religious purposes, as it could be rented out by the general public (this helped pay for the church's retreats and upkeep of the facility).

        The law here simply states that if you're not exclusively (or even mostly) employing members of your own religion then you must offer the same kinds of coverage as a regular employer. Really it's protecting the first amendment rights of the workers who aren't necessarily Catholic. If you're just employing members of your own religion, the Catholic church does have the exemption on birth control.

        February 3, 2012 at 7:41 am |
      • jean2009

        Mamma's don't pop out anything all takes two to tango. You certainly seem to be a case of arrested development.

        February 4, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • jerrylax

      yes! Another leftist/marxist attempt to ignore the constitution of the US. I don't think even obama would be stretching like this if he thought he had a real chance at another term...he knows he is finished. This administration has absolutely nothing to run on for another term. Today the GOP is left (that is the definition of liberalism)the GOP contenders prove this, and the democratic party has moved to the far far left...and the far far left just is not where Americans are. Obama is in burn the village mode as he finishes his last few months. But we will clean up his mess...soon!

      February 2, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
      • Missus Powell

        It has needed cleaning up for a long time and FINALLY we have a PRESIDENT who is doing his damndest to work for ALL THE PEOPLE!!! Oh, I forgot to say I HAVE ZERO TOLERANCE FOR ZERO TOLERANCE! OBAMA 2012-2016

        February 3, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
      • Missus Powell

        LIBERAL IS NOT anyone who thinks like SANTORUM! LIBERAL is EQUALITY FOR ALL, not the few chosen by the few. Don't insult the intelligence of others by writing such idiotic statements and calling it TRUTH!!

        February 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • kyphi

      Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, Calif. disagrees

      February 3, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Missus Powell


      February 3, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Linda J

      I agree. It is about this being forced on us. If we do not do as we are told, fines are going to be levied. I have no problem with taking the contraceptives, but, to have to pay for an abortion is something altogether different. Even if I were not Catholic, I do not believe in abortion. Use the contraceptives and do not get pregnant, or have the baby and give it to someone who desperately wants one but can not.

      February 5, 2012 at 1:51 am |
  6. Dave Jaipersaud

    What's up with all these folks bashing condoms and other forms of contraception? I bet most of them buy it at the drug store or have their husbands or boyfriends use it. Where I come from, it is hypocritical to be against something and then turn around and use that same something that I am against. I guess these opposers must be Republicans. Hypo critics

    February 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  7. Graham Krueger

    To me, it's not about the churches or schools, it's about keeping the playing field level. When a new policy like this is implemented, I think it has to be across the board, otherwise it may be applied unevenly, or other businesses may try to claim exemption as well. Access to contraception is the most important factor in furthering sexual health AND reducing the number of abortions. Everybody wins.

    February 2, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  8. GrouchyKat

    What happened to the separation of Church and State. Guess that doesn't count for law if you're part of the Obamanation ruining this country.

    February 2, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • El Flaco

      I voted for Obama in 2008 because he was so obviously superior to McCain.

      He is obviously superior to Gingrich, Paul, Romney, and Santorum so I'm sure I'll be voting for him again.

      February 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
      • jerrylax

        define superior...if you can. If you just compare the careers of some of these men to obama..obamal oops pretty small and foolish....that is is you can be analytical and nonpartisan.

        February 2, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
      • Formerly a Catholic Democrat

        What does that have to do with the separation of church and state? I may prefer one candidate over the other but regarding basic civil liberties I tend to be a single issue voter. I voted for Obama in 2008 as well, this is a deal breaker though.

        February 2, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • josh101

      Coverage for contraception is required in every health insurance plan... The Obama registration only confirms that this includes insurance plans from Catholic institutions. In other words, they are saying that the Catholic community cannot change the regulations based on their faith... This is not government intruding religion, just preventing that religion bypasses laws....

      February 2, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
      • jean2009

        @josh101 Thank you for stating it so clearly....however I doubt if you can convince fools. I feel if a woman is paying for health insurance coverage through her place of work it should pay for all of her needs...BTW these same religious groups plan to pay for Viagra? If they cover Viagra then they should pay for a woman's birth control/contraception.

        February 4, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Princess

      Nov03 A year after my entry into the one, holy, catholic, and atospolic church, I was confronted with the reality that we are all sinners whom God is calling to be saints. To know this truth intellectually is one thing, to experience it and remain steadfast is another. My initial response was horror, and instead of seeking the Lord in prayer I gave way to anxiety which lead to depression and despair. I walked that dark road for four years until I respond once again to the voice of the Lord. On that dark road, I knew one day I would be forced to choose between the Lord and His Church or to continue to walk the path to complete and utter darkness. Thankfully, God's mercy has reclaimed me. We are all called to have a Marian response to God's call to holiness. Her fiat was not once for all, but lived every moment in faith, hope, and love. May God grant us the grace to enter into his Divine Mercy that we might be the light of the world. For it will only be in becoming like our Lord, through his grace and mercy, that others will see the light of His Church.

      March 2, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  9. GrouchyKat

    There is no discussion. It's all one sided – the nanny state belives that the foundations of this country really don't matter.

    February 2, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • El Flaco

      The government is not forcing anyone to take birth control pills.

      Birth control = fewer abortions

      February 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Wrongo

      The Catholic church has little to no piece in the discussion of the foundation of this country. There is a separation of church and state, and this law is simply not exempting a church from following the same rules as other employers when it comes to insuring their workers.

      February 3, 2012 at 7:48 am |
      • is that right?

        In that case Wrongo, does the United States government have the right to force the Catholic Church to hire women priests? By not allowing women to be employed as priests aren't they violating the Civil Rights Act? Aren't they discriminating against the American worker? Priests are employed and pay income taxes like everyone else. The Supreme Court says NO. The law is always open to interpretation. Catholic institutions are not subject to this mandate just because you, Obama and other pro-abortion pro-artificial contraception advocates say so. This will be tested and we'll see what happens.

        February 5, 2012 at 3:23 am |
  10. Mary Lander

    Thanks to the Obama administration and the Affordable Care Act, millions of women will have access to affordable birth control - and now it clearly includes those women who are employed by a business or attend a school that has religious ties, as it should.

    If you really care about religious freedom, then neither government nor your employer should intrude on your ability to practice your own faith, including making your own personal decisions about health care or birth control. Because it is the religious freedom of those WOMEN and their families that is protected by the Constitution. No one is making anyone use birth control if they don't choose to, but since 99 percent of women and 98 percent of Catholic women use birth control at some point in their life, they should not be discriminated against in their health care.

    February 2, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • is that right?

      So Mary what you are saying is this, if there are 1,000 nuns in room 990 of them have used artificial contraception at some point in their life. That is an astounding statistic, I must say. Let's not discriminate, get them birth control right away!

      February 5, 2012 at 3:42 am |
  11. El Flaco

    I have read that almost all Catholics in the US have used birth control methods that the church disapproves of.

    February 2, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  12. billo

    Our local news channel story says this includes FDA approved contraceptives, including abortions. They cite CNN as a contributor to their story. I'm trying to figure out if that is true or not.

    February 2, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  13. RB

    The Catholic Church is a billion dollar corporation and the Pope is it's CEO. Take away their tax breaks make them pay taxes.

    February 2, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • GOD

      Now that would be enforcing the first amendment...

      February 4, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • is that right?

      You mean like GE, Bank of America, Citibank, Chrysler and all of the other corporations that "pay" taxes? I'm sorry did I say pay taxes, I meant receive corporate welfare.

      February 5, 2012 at 2:41 am |
  14. Daniel6

    the god-less secular war on religions continues-it will fail– and unify opposition to this power hungry whitehouse

    February 2, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
  15. Ron

    The supremes will decide this one.

    February 2, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
  16. Dan5404

    Actually, it is a war by churches with dogmatic religious beliefs to inject their beliefs on everyone. Their own parishoners, for reasons shared by most young couples, generally do not opt for the strict policy against birth control. This is an age-old argument, but the church should not be involved in politics unless they want their assets taxed just like everyone else,

    February 2, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  17. Father of 4

    I do not see the problem, no one is forcing anyone to use the contraceptives, it is simply offered as part of the health care coverage. The White house is not sending an Brith control police around and forcing people to get them, it is an option available to any employee, they are free to choose whether they want to use it or not. Geesh Catholics get a grip, and just so you know I am a Catholic myself and have no issue with this policy at all. So if you are going to condemn this Pres. for this issue then you are obviously against the right to choose for yourself what you want and need the church and republicans to tell you want is best for you. Good luck with that.

    February 2, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
  18. Joey

    Why isn't abstinence ever mentioned? It's the best form of contraception there is and never fails, it costs nothing except a personal choice. Be choosy about the partners you engage with and think about it before you do it. It's almost as if the population is viewed as a group of animals that can't control themselves and have no self discipline.

    February 3, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • patweazle

      Yeah, abstinence works so well. Teeenagers all over the world can testify to that! Quite honest,I feel that there is a huge double-standard, because what most people really mean to say is that it's girls only that should be abstinent. Let's be real about the needs of people: Do you really expect people to not engage in relationships well into their 20s, or do you think we should go back where women had to get married because they got pregnant and ended up at the mercy of their signficant other because they had to postpone their own careers due to popping out unexpected babies? Birth control has given women a choice to plan their lives just as men can without sacrificing in their personal relationships. There is nothing wrong with women having multiple partners before making a decision with whom to procreate. It doesn't mean you are irresponsible. As a matter of fact, irresponsible people will be irresponsible – with or without birth control. No need to restrict the rest of us, who ARE using birth control to be responsible. No need to push your beliefs on me. ............Maybe people should start complaining about coverage for Viagra instead??

      February 3, 2012 at 5:21 am |
      • Missus Powell

        I agree with you 100% !! I will go one step further–DNA ALL MALES AT BIRTH so they TOO share in the responsibilities of the children they DO create!! It is THE ONE THING NOONE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT!! It is why WOMEN finally took FULL RESPONSIBILITY for their bodies and what ROE vs. WADE is really about!! PRO-CHOICE IS PRO-LIFE for ALL WOMEN!! The RIGHT TO CHOOSE IS THE LAW!

        February 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Wrongo

      Well you can't legislate abstinence. People are going to have sexual relations, you can't stop it. Furthermore the church can't force it's workers not to. Again this isn't about forcing a religion to do anything, it's about letting employees have health care regardless of their employer's personal (or religious) beliefs–even if that employer is a church.

      February 3, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • jean2009

      @Joey after reading many of your posts...I highly recommend you use abstinence.

      February 4, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  19. brad

    No one is forcing these people to take the contraceptives. They are just forcing the business to provide them if asked. The business part of these agencies are ruled by govt regulations. Under separation of church and state, their religious beliefs cannot be taken into account when enacting the law. In other words get your god out of my politics.

    February 3, 2012 at 3:44 am |
  20. anthony

    2 problems here #1 the employer of the company IS a person and he has a right not to support(read:pay for) activities he does not support. the 1st amendment says that no law shall restrict the free expression of religion, most people just concentrate on the establishment part. the employer's free expression has obviously been affected here. #2) the intrinsic stupidity of employer provided health insurance.

    February 3, 2012 at 5:57 am |
  21. Tired of the BS

    This has nothing to do with separation of church and state or the government forcing anything on the church. This has to do with a BUISNESS not allowing their worker the rite to services because they don't believe in it. Something that is such a personal choice should not be decided by anyone or anything but the person. Everyone that works for the catholic church is not catholic so why do they have to be forced follow these stone age beliefs? If u believe that contraception should not be used then fine don't use it but let everyone else also make that decision for themselves. Oh and Joey abstinance was not mentioned because this isn't about that not even married couples use birth control, not everyone wants to have kids it's that simple and just like abstinance is a personal choice so is wheather or not to use birth control. Worry about your own lives and let people worry about theirs. To many people putting their nose where it doesn't belong.....smh

    February 3, 2012 at 6:53 am |
  22. clarke

    What is this a problem.It is simple, it is there if you want it and if you don't, you don't have to. Why such an issue. No one is being forced to take birth control but they are being forced not to.

    February 3, 2012 at 6:57 am |
  23. McShannon

    Helping with responsible family planning and preventing unwanted pregnancy seems to me something that insurance companies would endorse as well as employers. Fewer abortions and consideration for employee needs seems noble to me.

    February 3, 2012 at 8:03 am |
  24. kyphi

    There are already Catholic hospitals who provide birth control in their insurance.

    February 3, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  25. kyphi

    read the NPR report on this topic

    February 3, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  26. Steveo


    Thanks for the reply! I am not for the Pope controlling our country. He has his own (the Vatican). This kinda reminds me of how parents would tell ther kid not to get in the water yet the kid sticks a big toe in, trying to get as close as possible! How close to the edge are we going to get? Knowing how the governmemnt works, whose next? What's next? I

    February 3, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  27. glennrobert

    Who mentioned pedophiles?

    February 3, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  28. J

    It's interesting how everyone complains about how if the Catholic Church wants to be involved in politics it should have to start paying taxes and not getting tax breaks off the backs of tax payers when the Catholic Church saves the government and tax payers billions of dollars annually just in education alone. Who knows how much more is saved by other institutions run by the Catholic Church and other private religious institutions. So you should all actually be thanking the Catholic Church for the money we save you. Also since when is contraception a right that other people should have to pay for? Why should I have to pay for some couple that doesn't want to take responsibility in their lives?

    February 3, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  29. Joseph

    The sticky thing is who pays for it. Should the taxpayers subsidize behavior contrary to their religious beliefs? If a woman wants birth control or abortions, I contend she ought to pay for it.

    February 4, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • jean2009

      i assure you that any working person is paying for their own insurance...either their insurance is offered as a part of their work contract/wage, or is deducted from their wages. If the later it is deducted from their pay check; if a part of their work contract then without it they would have received a higher wage. If the employee wants the insurance plan they use to pay for their contraceptives then logically it is not contrary to their personal religious beliefs....even though it is against their employers' religious beliefs.

      There is nothing sticky about this, if the same plan pays for Viagra.... should taxpayers pay for some males' libido? It is just the common male double standard.

      February 4, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  30. Ellen

    Religiously affiliated businesses (hospitals, universities etc.) in states that already mandate this type of insurance coverage have managed to work with it. I see no reason those in other states can't manage to do the same .They have a year to design insurance plans that respect the beliefs of both parties involved – the employer and the employee. I don't see how including this coverage violates an employers religious freedoms. An employer still has the right to oppose and preach against contraception – it simply doesn't have the right to impose that belief on all employees by refusing to offer insurance plans that cover it. Employees are then free to choose whether to utilize such benefits or not as their individual conscience dictates. That seems perfectly consistent with the concepts of freedom of and freedom from religion when shared religious beliefs are not a condition of employment.

    February 4, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
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