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Obama Backtracks on Birth Control to Appease Religious Groups

By Meredith Carroll |

Birth control

President Obama tweaked his stance on birth control and which employers will be required to provide it for free

It must be an election year.

President Barack Obama announced today that religious employers like hospitals and universities will not be required to offer free birth control for their employees, according to The Associated Press.

Insurance companies will now be responsible for providing free contraception as a concession and accommodation from Obama to religious groups. The move, however, is not expected to full satisfy some religious groups since birth control will still be fully covered by health insurance.

Birth control in any form is in direct opposition to the beliefs of some religions, most notably Catholicism.

Obama spoke to reporters at the White House earlier today and said women will still be able to get free birth control, but directly from the insurance companies instead of from employers who are opposed to contraception because of their religious views.

Before today’s announcement, only churches and houses of worship were exempt from providing free birth control. Catholic bishops have called the contraception mandate an attack on religious freedom.

Obama made a point to say today that he supports freedom of religion.

“Whether you’re a teacher or a small businesswoman or a nurse or a janitor, no woman’s ‘s health should depend on who she is, or where she works, or how much money she makes,” Obama also said.

Both Planned Parenthood and the Catholic Health Association gave thumbs up in support of the move, which they call a compromise and the White House calls an “accommodation.”

It is widely believed that Obama was willing to budge on birth control and religious employers in order to avoid making it into a bigger deal — and making him even more unpopular with conservative and religious groups — during a year in which he’s up for reelection.

Image: Wikipedia

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About Meredith Carroll


Meredith Carroll

Meredith C. Carroll is an award-winning columnist and writer based in Aspen, Colorado. She can be found regularly on the Op-Ed page of The Denver Post. From 2005-2012 her other column, "Meredith Pro Tem" ran in several newspapers, as well as occasionally on The Huffington Post since 2009. Read more about her (or don’t, whatever) at her website. Read bio and latest posts → Read Meredith's latest posts →

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23 thoughts on “Obama Backtracks on Birth Control to Appease Religious Groups

  1. Shandeigh says:

    I think it’s a good compromise. Our country was founded on freedom of religion and forcing a religion to do something against their beliefs is wrong. Iyou’re working for a religious institution, you are most likely that religion and share their beliefs and wouldn’t use birth control anyway… so I’m not sure what the point was in forcing them to offer it. I personally think not allowing birth control is silly… God told us to be fruitful and multiply… and we have… time to slow down a bit ;)

  2. goddess says:

    What about covering sterilizations medically necessary sterilizations as the original mandate required?
    I want to see those Catholic health care plans and make sure they are not covering any erectile dysfunction drugs without ensuring that said erections are being used in Godful and procreative manner, that they are not being used upon wives who are not healthy enough to conceive, that they are being ONLY used in the sanctified and sacramental CATHOLIC marriage relationship, that they are not being used to spill the seed through onanism, and that they are never used in an adulterous or premarital relationship.
    I’d also like to see those Catholic employers who refuse to support this [birth control coverage] de-funded of all government funding (Medicaid, Medicare), and stripped of their non-profit status. Thenthey can serve you up their Doctrine with your treatment.

  3. Maureen Trovato says:

    WOW, Obama has achieved the perfect slight of hand normally seen among the best of magicians! He now not only looks like he “accommodated” religious liberty. He has guaranteed what he has no Constitutional authority to guarantee, BTW, “free” contraception, etc… that will be funded 100% by the American Taxpayer who is 25% Catholic!! This is not an accommodation! This is smoke and mirrors to obfuscate his tyrannical pursuit of the “perfect” society. Perfection, that is, defined and designed by him! Is that really what anybody wants? Are you really willing to extend that kind of power to any one single President? What happens when a Republican President gets elected after Obama has solidified, codified this kind of power in the office of the Presidency? What then? Is this what you really want out there People? This is all about the Constitution!! And how Obama is OBLITERATING it!!

  4. CW says:

    I don’t believe for one nanosecond that the insurance companies are just going to pay for contraception out of their profits. No, what will happen is that the insurers will raise their premiums for all companies, including the religious-affiliated ones to cover the costs of this mandate. Now, if the contraception coverage was part of a rider paid for 100% by the individual, that I would be okay with so long as purchasing the rider was optional rather than mandatory for all participants in the plan.

  5. goddess says:

    Prenatal care and then subsequent coverage for those children cost me as well. I’d rather pay for the birth control. The way I see it is, I’ll pay for the care wither through my insurance premiums or through my tax dollars. Birth control is much cheaper.

  6. 100200 says:

    CW: do you honestly think it’s more costly for an insurance company to provide birth control than it would be to cover the cost of pre-natal care and delivery and health care for new “catholic” babies? The insurance companies should be thankful! I think the “accommodation” is a bit ridiculous, but as long as women can get the care they want regardless of where they are employed, I’m fine with it. Though…since it would be illegal for a catholic school or hospital to hire only catholic workers, I don’t get how hey get off suggesting that their employees should act “catholic” in regards to birth control…not that most catholics act that way anyway. This has been made an issue by religious fanatics…many to even catholic. I don’t think religious “freedom” is a good reason to control women’s bodies.

  7. grace says:

    I have to share the cost for all my prescriptions through my health insurance. Why is contraception so special that the President hand pick this one to be free?

  8. Doug Indeap says:

    The point of an exemption (and this compromise) is simply to enable an employer to avoid acting contrary to his or her religious beliefs, not to revisit the merits of the health law or enable employers to undercut it by retaining control of employees’ health plans, limiting employees’ choices to those religiously approved by the employer, and avoiding paying any money to anybody that might someday be used by somebody to provide services to employees not to the employers’ liking.

  9. CW says:

    Women who want to use contraception are going to use it regardless of whether or not their heath insurance picks up the tab. A month’s supply of birth control pills or a box of condoms cost less than a single pizza and six-pack. The question is whose responsibility that minimal cost should be- the user or someone else? Given that pregnancy is not a disease and use of contraception for the purposes of family planning is medically unnecessary, I do not believe it should be mandated coverage.

  10. yahoudi says:

    CW, LOL- I call bullsh….

    I can get large pizza for $5.00 (@Little Caesars)
    LifeStyles Ultra Lube Plus Condoms, 14ct costs $5.24 (
    The last birth control pill I was taking now costs $30.83 (Ortho Tri-cyclen
    7daysx3 28 Tablet (through Medco – my insurance company’s negotiated discounted price)

    I’m Cool= I had my tubal ligation. But I will reiterate: Birth control is far cheaper than prenatal care, delivery and subsequent health care for the next 18 years of that child’s life.

  11. Doug Indeap says:

    I’m curious. How long do you suppose a dollar remains Catholic after a religious employer uses it to pay others and they use it to pay others, etc? At some point, some might rightfully regard that dollar as theirs to do with as they will–without regard to the religious views of others who once had it in their hands a transaction or two earlier.

  12. yahoudi says:

    I think they should only pay in rosary beads. That’s what Jesus would do.
    Or maybe fish and loaf of bread. Wine, if your lucky for those special occasion- served up with some yummy human organ meat and blood.
    Catholic= The Original Goth

  13. CW says:

    We don’t have Little Caesar’s where I live. A large pizza at the restaurant down my street costs $15.99 and a 6 pack of beer costs $7-10 depending on the brand. A woman can definitely get generic birth control pills for less than that total cost. Maybe not a specific brand name but that’s like me whining I cannot afford some expensive microbrew and have to settle for drinking Bud Light. It serves the purpose even if it might not be my ideal preference.

  14. yahoudi says:

    Actually, before I believe you can get a generic for less than $5-6, you’ll have to prove it with a link or few. At least list the generic and I will be more than happy to look it up on my insurance plan.
    BTW- don’t whine about not going for a cheap pizza and getting that expensive one- even Pizza Hut offers $10 large pizzas. The cheaper serves the purpose even if it is not your ideal preference.

  15. 100200 says:

    CW: it’s not that these employees are choosing between pizza and pills, it’s that they’d be paying into a health insurance policy that wouldnt allow them access through that policy to a medication they use and want–a basic medication that is used by the majority of American women. Your employer should not be allowed to tell you which medicines you can take. Gluttony is a sin, should catholic institutions be able to opt out of offering diabetes medicines or medicine for heart disease to their employees? This is not–and has never been–about religious freedom, it’s about women’s health care rights and the institutions that wish to exert control over women.

  16. CW says:

    My family pays into a health insurance policy that doesn’t cover everything I wish it did, either. Specifically, I wish we could get coverage for Naturopathic care. However, my DH’s employer chooses not to cover Naturopathic care in its health insurance policy. So if I want to see a N.D., we have to pay for it ourselves out-of-pocket. C’est la vie.

  17. CW says:

    I found a U.S. News & World Report article that said in 2008, generic birth control pills cost $9/month. So even with inflation, it’s still far less than what I would pay for a single pizza and six-pack (around $23-26 total).

  18. 100200 says:

    CW: well, I’m sure your insurance covers the rhythm method…so, that seems like they cover natropathy. As far as real medicine goes, women should have access to real birth control through their health insurance. Your obsession with pizza is vexing.

  19. Linda, T.O.O. says:

    My daughter takes oral contraceptive pills for medical reasons (not birth control) and the cost without insurance for a generic brand is $30 for a month’s supply. They are normally covered by insurance with a $10 copay, but she lost a pack once. It’s simply not ever going to be an employer’s place to interfere with an employee’s health care based only on religious doctrine. I support every person being able to practice the religion of their choice, but my tolerance ends when religious authorities attempts to infringe upon the rights of others. I find it completely ethically reprehensible.

  20. yahoudi says:

    Thank you for that.
    Now I know it’s far less expensive to cover than prenatal care, delivery and 123-26 years of subsequent health care ;-)
    I’m willing to bitch louder and push harder now that I know

  21. CW says:

    What does naturopathy have to do with the Rhythm method???? Naturopathic doctors are physicians trained to treat all sorts of medical conditions using nutrition, vitamins, herbs, acupuncture/acupressure, homeopathy, and other natural methods. I suppose a N.D. probably would recommend fertility awareness for family planning over artificial contraception, but that’s not what I would personally consult a N.D. for. I had a wonderful N.D. whom I had to give up seeing when became a SAHM because I could no longer afford to spend hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket to see him :-(

  22. 100200 says:

    CW: if you are genuinely concerned about health care premiums and access to care, you should engage in the larger health care conversation that is going on in this country instead of proclaiming that alls fair in love and pizza and blah blah blah “but me”–it’s not fair and that’s the point and this particular issue of catholic institutions wanting to opt out of offering birth control through their health plan is especially unfair (and, I might add, something that GW Bush was against and Was able to get that on the books with out a “compromise”). While this compromise is fine, I am annoyed that a vocal, conservative minority can get such attention. 99 percent of women have used birth control in their lifetime (Michelle Duggar included). It’s basic normal care and I dislike that there needs to be “compromises” over it. Don’t like it, don’t use it… But, to echo a familiar statement in current politics: I am the 99%.

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