Elisabeth Meinecke

It's the issue that fortunately--at least fortunately for those Americans who care about freedom of religion--won't go away: the Catholic Church is continuing to warn against the HHS mandate put forward by the Obama administration, and, more specifically, the 'compromise' that President Obama announced February 10th.

The Catholic Diocese of Arlington included a flyer handed to parishoners (at least at yours truly's parish) after Mass this weekend; it included the following:

"President Obama's February 10 offer of a limited and unclear compromise does not change the urgent need for legislation to correct such threats to religious liberty and conscience rights."

Obama on February 10 said, "This is an issue where people of goodwill on both sides of the debate have been sorting through some very complicated questions to find a solution that works for everyone. With today’s announcement, we've done that.  Religious liberty will be protected, and a law that requires free preventive care will not discriminate against women."

I'm not sure how Obama's 'solution that works for everyone' really fits with the description of a 'limited and unclear compromise' as was described this weekend. It's also good to remember that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops didn't even feel consulted about the Feb. 10th compromise, of which they said on that day:

"We just received information about this proposal for the first time this morning; we were not consulted in advance. Some information we have is in writing and some is oral."

Sounds exactly like how the administraton loves to conduct business. Is it a real compromise, or a faux compromise, if one of the main parties affected wasn't even consulted? To make matters worse, Obama's announcement went on and on about how, from the beginning of this process, he's consulted people in the Catholic community on the HHS mandate. Sounds like his judgment on deciding the proper parties to consult on the compromise is just as poor as his judgment to allow the mandate in the first place.

In case you've forgotten, here were the 'details' of Obama's compromise, as he himself explained it on February 10th:

"Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services -– no matter where they work.  So that core principle remains.  But if a woman’s employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company -– not the hospital, not the charity -– will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles. 

The result will be that religious organizations won’t have to pay for these services, and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly.  Let me repeat:  These employers will not have to pay for, or provide, contraceptive services.  But women who work at these institutions will have access to free contraceptive services, just like other women, and they'll no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars a year that could go towards paying the rent or buying groceries."

It really seems to go against the feminist mantra of not needing to be provided for, right? Shouldn't an independent woman who doesn't need help and can take care of herself be able to afford such an apparently crucial medicine? Obviously, that's not my argument. But it's a point liberals and feminists should have to face and answer to America's satisfaction.

UPDATE: For those wondering what the USCCB's issue with the compromise is, here's an example they give on their website:

"·It would still mandate that all insurers must include coverage for the objectionable services in all the policies they would write. At this point, it would appear that self-insuring religious employers, and religious insurance companies, are not exempt from this mandate."


Elisabeth Meinecke

Elisabeth Meinecke is TOWNHALL MAGAZINE Managing Editor. Follow her on Twitter @lismeinecke.