Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Obama's Birth Control Policy Has Support From Catholic Hospitals, Colleges, And Charities, But Fox Won't Tell You That

From Media Matters

Following the announcement by President Obama that his administration will ensure that women have access to insurance coverage for birth control while accommodating employers who object to providing birth control, Catholic hospitals and other institutions have said that they support the policy. But Fox News refuses to tell its viewers that the policy has widespread support, instead pretending that Catholic hospitals and other employers are being victimized. Fox Suggests Contraception Compromise Is Unacceptable To Catholic Hospitals, Colleges, And Charities Fox News' Doocy & Johnson Suggested That Catholic "Social Service Agencies, Hospitals, [And] Colleges" Are Opposed To Obama's Policy On Coverage For Contraception. From the February 13 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends: STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Despite opposition from Catholic bishops, the White House is standing by its "compromise" over the birth control mandate. But are they just passing the buck? Let's talk to Fox News legal analyst, Peter Johnson, Jr., who has been examining this. Peter. PETER JOHNSON, JR. (Fox News legal analyst): Good morning. Yeah we have been looking at this for about six weeks before anyone else was. It's -- in my view it's a bait and switch at this point. Not much has changed at all. And what the federal government is saying: "Listen, we're going to decide who is Catholic enough. Some of your institutions are really Catholic, you nuns and priests, OK you're Catholic, and so nuns you're probably not going to be wanting these abortion drugs, so you're exempt. But your other Catholic organizations they're not so exempt, so we'll make it easy -- DOOCY: Like colleges and hospitals. JOHNSON: Yeah. "We'll make it easier for you -- social service agencies, hospitals, colleges, we'll make it easy for you. We're still going to hand out the abortion-producing drugs and sterilizations, and they're going to be free." Which is a wonderful feature of this administration, more free stuff. "So, but you don't have to be part of that. So just close your eyes over here priests and nuns and bishops and cardinals and your flock, and -- but we're going to hand this stuff out anyway so you don't have to have it on your conscience." There's something called being a conscientious objector -- DOOCY: Sure JOHNSON: -- that we understand with regard to war. Priests and nuns and bishops and a lot of Catholics in this country say "we are conscientious objectors in the war on babies." -- DOOCY: Sure. JOHNSON: -- "on the war on the unborn." And say "don't make us violate our religion." And say "you can announce an accommodation, a compromise, call it what you want, it's a violation of the Constitution that not only hurts Catholics, but people of all faith." DOOCY: Sure, and so, you know, if you work for a Catholic hospital or a college, you know, they buy you, the Catholic Church, buys you insurance. And so with a wink and a nod, OK, the church is not going to pay for it, but your insurance company is going to pay for it. Nonetheless, really, the church is providing the coverage for contraception and sterilization. JOHNSON: Yeah, you're absolutely -- and the law is clear, internal church governance is exempt from the law, is exempt from government intrusion. DOOCY: Not here. JOHNSON: And so the Catholics are saying "this is a matter of our internal church governance, don't make this part of some petty, partisan, political giveaway in an election year that harkens back to Tammany Hall in the political machine era in America where they gave away free turkeys and food baskets that say 'remember us on election day.' " Is the call this year "remember us on election year, we eliminated your co-pay for abortion producing drugs and contraception to the derogation of the Constitution"? That's not a call to arms that a lot of people are interested in. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/13/12] Fox News Graphic: "Catholic Organizations Renew Concerns" About Contraception Compromise. During the February 13 edition of Fox & Friends, a caption stated: "Coming To A Compromise? Catholic Organizations Renew Concerns": [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/13/12] Fox's Perino: The Obama Administration "Ma[de] It Worse" With Contraception Accommodation. From the February 13 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends: BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): Dana, first off, the big news, the contraceptive mandate. How, in your estimations, did the president go so wrong on this? DANA PERINO (Fox News host): Well, I think that we'll probably find out as time goes on what actually happened. In just some of the journalistic investigation into this there was different opinions. And I think that's one good thing, that you can look at this White House and know that there is a variety of opinion. President Obama listened to all of them and made a decision that he was going to go forward with this mandate that the HHS Secretary, Health and Human Services Secretary, would put out a ruling saying that religious organizations don't have an option. They would have to be -- they would be compelled to provide the contraceptive care for free to employees even though that had never happened in our country before, and it violated what they call their conscience clause. It was then rolled out very poorly, and then the execution and management of the roll out made things even worse. They realize that they are getting swamped politically, they start to walk it back, but instead, it was like -- you know when you rub a spot on a wall and you make it worse? That seems to be what's happened. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/13/12, via Media Matters] In Fact, Catholic Institutions Have Shown Overwhelming Support For Obama's Contraception Policy Catholic Health Association Is "Very Pleased" With The White House Accommodation On Birth Control. The Catholic Health Association of the United States "supports the Catholic health ministry's commitment to improve the health status of communities and create quality and compassionate health care that works for everyone. The Catholic health ministry is the nation's largest group of not-for-profit health systems and facilities." Sister Carol Keehan, the president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, stated: The Catholic Health Association is very pleased with the White House announcement that a resolution has been reached that protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions. The framework developed has responded to the issues we identified that needed to be fixed. We are pleased and grateful that the religious liberty and conscience protection needs of so many ministries that serve our country were appreciated enough that an early resolution of this issue was accomplished. The unity of Catholic organizations in addressing this concern was a sign of its importance. This difference has at times been uncomfortable but it has helped our country sort through an issue that has been important throughout the history of our great democracy. The Catholic Health Association remains committed to working with the Administration and others to fully implement the Affordable Care Act to extend comprehensive and quality health care to many who suffer today from the lack of it. [Catholic Health Association, 2/10/12] University Of Notre Dame President: "We Applaud The Willingness Of The Administration To Work With Religious Organizations To Find A Solution Acceptable To All Parties." A statement from Rev. John I. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame: "The widespread concerns expressed by Catholics and people from other faiths have led today to a welcome step toward recognizing the freedom of religious institutions to abide by the principles that define their respective missions. We applaud the willingness of the administration to work with religious organizations to find a solution acceptable to all parties. "There remain a number of unclear and unresolved issues, and we look forward to joining the U.S. bishops and leaders from other religious institutions to work with the administration to resolve them." [University of Notre Dame, 2/10/12] Association Of Jesuit Colleges And Universities "Appreciates The Compromise That President Obama Has Made To Accommodate Religious Institutions In Regard To The Birth Control Mandate." From a press release from the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, a coalition of 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States: The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) acknowledges and appreciates the compromise that President Obama has made to accommodate religious institutions in regard to the birth control mandate under the Affordable Care Act. We commend the Obama Administration for its willingness to work with us on moving toward a solution, and we look forward to working out the details of these new regulations with the White House. [Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, 2/10/12] Catholic Charities USA "Welcomes" The Obama Administration's Accommodation Of Religious Institutions As A "Step In The Right Direction." From a press release by Rev. Larry Snyder, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA: "Catholic Charities USA welcomes the Administration's attempt to meet the concerns of the religious community and we look forward to reviewing the final language. "We are hopeful that this is a step in the right direction and are committed to continuing our work to ensure that our religious institutions will continue to be granted the freedom to remain faithful to our beliefs, while also being committed to providing access to quality healthcare for our 70,000 employees and their families across the country." [Catholic Charities USA, 2/11/12] Faith In Public Life: "Prominent National Faith Leaders Celebrate White House's Common-Ground Solution On Contraception Coverage." A February 10 post on Faith in Public Life's website highlighted a statement by Catholic and Protestant leaders describing the Obama administration's accommodation as a "major victory for religious liberty and women's health." The statement was signed by members of the Catholic and protestant clergy, theology professors at Catholic universities, and other religious leaders. From the statement: Today the Obama administration announced an important regulation that will protect the conscience rights of religious organizations and ensure that all women have access to contraception without a co-payment. We applaud the White House for listening carefully to the concerns raised by religious leaders on an issue that has provoked heated and often misinformed debate. This ruling is a major victory for religious liberty and women's health. President Obama has demonstrated that these core values do not have to be in conflict. Specifically, this new regulation guarantees that no religiously affiliated institution will have to pay for services that violate its moral beliefs or even refer employees for this coverage. Instead, if a woman's employer is an objecting university, hospital or other religious institution, her insurer will be required to offer her coverage at no cost. This is a sensible, common-ground solution. In recent days, sound bites and divisive rhetoric have too often pitted the faith community against sound science and public health.The previous regulations caused an unnecessary conflict between the administration, the Catholic Church and other religious institutions. We are encouraged that the Obama administration has developed a substantive solution that addresses the concerns of the many constituencies involved. We look forward to bringing the same level of passion displayed in this debate to other pressing moral issues that face our nation. [Faith in Public Life, 2/10/12] Catholics United "Supports Obama Administration's New Compromise Regulation On HHS Contraception Rule." In a press release, Catholics United expressed their "support" for the Obama administration and called on Catholic Bishops to do the same: Today the Obama Administration announced that the President would be issuing a new regulation fully respecting the religious liberty of Catholic organizations while maintaining access to contraceptive services for all employees. The new regulation will ensure that Catholic hospitals, universities and social service providers that are religiously opposed to contraception and sterilization do not have to provide or even refer for those services, while also requiring insurance companies provide contraceptive services free of charge to any enrollee who wishes to have the coverage. The objecting religious organizations would have no role in providing coverage or referring employees for services they would deem objectionable. The cost of the contraceptive coverage will be born by the insurance companies and will be offset by the long term cost savings associated with reduced need for maternity care. Using the standard of Catholic moral theology, this solution is acceptable because no Catholic or Catholic institution will be directly involved in what the church deems to be an immoral act. "Catholics United has been calling on both sides of this heated debate to work towards today's win-win solution," said James Salt, executive director of Catholics United. "President Obama has shown us that he is willing to rise above the partisan fray to deliver an actual policy solution that both meets the health care needs of all employees and respects the religious liberty of Catholic institutions." Today's announcement will also be a test for the Catholic bishops, who have indicated that they are opposed to compromise. "I am eager to see the response of the Catholic bishops, and I hope and pray in their wisdom they see the value of finding a solution," Salt said. "If the bishops are unwilling to recognize the value of compromise, I suspect their opposition is more about playing politics than serving the needs of the people." [Catholics United, 2/10/12] Moreover, Recent Polls Show Majority Of Catholics Support Insurance Plans That Cover Contraception Public Religion Research Institute: "Majority Of Catholics Think Employers Should Be Required To Provide Health Care Plans That Cover Birth Control At No Cost." A poll released by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) on February 7 found that "[r]oughly 6-in-10 Catholics (58%) believe that employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception." From PRRI: Majority Support Requirement that Employer Health Care Plans Include Contraception Coverage A majority (55%) of Americans agree that "employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception and birth control at no cost." Four-in-ten (40%) disagree with this requirement. There are major religious, generational and political divisions: Roughly 6-in-10 Catholics (58%) believe that employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception. Among Catholic voters, support for this requirement is slightly lower at 52%. Only half (50%) of white Catholics support this requirement, compared to 47% who oppose it. Among other religious Americans, 61% of religiously unaffiliated Americans believe that employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception, compared to only half (50%) of white mainline Protestants and less than 4-in-10 (38%) white evangelical Protestants. The news release about the poll included the following graph: [PRRI, 2/7/12] PRRI: "Majority Of Catholics (52%) Say That Religiously Affiliated Colleges And Hospitals Should Have To Provide Coverage That Includes Contraception." From PRRI's press release: Nearly half (49%) of Americans say that religiously affiliated colleges and hospitals should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception or birth control at no cost. Forty-six percent say they should not have to provide this type of coverage. A majority of Catholics (52%) say that religiously affiliated colleges and hospitals should have to provide coverage that includes contraception. Among Catholic voters, however, only 45% support this requirement, while 52% oppose it. Only about 4-in-10 (41%) white Catholics support this requirement, compared to 58% who oppose it. [PRRI, 2/7/12] Public Policy Polling: "A 53 Percent Majority Of Catholic Voters" Support "Providing Women With Prescription Birth Control Without A Co-Pay." A Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey released February 7 found that "a 53 percent majority of Catholic voters" support providing birth control to women without a co-pay, and a 53 percent majority also agreed with the sentiment that "women employed by Catholic hospitals and universities should have the same rights to contraceptive coverage as other women." From PPP: A solid 56 percent majority of voters support the decision to require health plans to cover prescription birth control with no additional out-of-pocket fees, while only 37 percent are opposed. It's particularly noteworthy that pivotal independent voters support this benefit by a 55/36 margin; in fact, a majority of voters in every racial, age, and religious category that we track express support. In particular, a 53 percent majority of Catholic voters, who were oversampled as part of this poll, favor the benefit, including fully 62 percent of Catholics who identify themselves as independents. [...] - A similarly strong majority (57 percent) of voters think that women employed by Catholic hospitals and universities should have the same rights to contraceptive coverage as other women, while only 39 percent say these institutions should be exempted from the requirement that health plans cover prescription birth control with no additional out-of-pocket costs because contraception runs counter to Catholic teachings. Notably, a 53 percent majority of Catholics agree with this sentiment, including 60 percent of independents. [PPP, 2/7/12, via Planned Parenthood, emphasis original]
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