In response to the incredible groundswell of opposition to the recent HHS birth control mandate President Obama has offered a compromise meant to appease Catholics. A statement released by the White House announced the compromise and stated the following:
Under the new policy to be announced today, women will have free preventive care that includes contraceptive services no matter where she works. The policy also ensures that if a woman works for a religious employer with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide, pay for or refer for contraception coverage, but her insurance company will be required to directly offer her contraceptive care free of charge.
Catholics cannot under any circumstance cooperate with an inherent evil which, according to Catholic moral teaching, includes methods of artificial birth control including, but not limited to, contraceptives, abortions and sterilizations. Unfortunately, President Obama’s compromise merely makes this cooperation one step removed. That is, while no Catholic under the mandate would be required to directly hand out contraceptives to his or her employees, Catholic employers will still be required to indirectly pay for birth control through their insurance plans.
The Obama administration attempted to justify the accommodation by stating that Catholics will not be paying for birth control because it will be free and the cost of birth control would be negated by the money saved by reducing pregnancies. The net result is that we would actually save money, the administration claimed. However, practicing Catholics have been categorically opposed to the mandate not because covering birth control represents a financial loss, but because it requires Catholic employers and insurance providers to offer contraception, abortion, and sterilization without any conscience-protection exemptions. Thus, the mandate, even in light of the new compromise, directly violates religious freedom by forcing Catholics to choose between following the law and following their faith.
This has nothing to do with the money. The economics can be debated and the Obama administration can do accounting backflips if they so desire but the problem remains that all those who oppose birth control – Catholic and otherwise – are required by law to cooperate with something that they believe to be evil. If Catholics are to be afforded conscience-protection then they must have access to insurance plans that does not cover birth control.
Unfortunately, this represents nothing more than a political ploy meant to offer a facade of compromise without really providing Catholics with any accommodations whatsoever. In order to live in accordance with their religion, Catholics will be compelled to civil disobedience in relation to the HHS mandate and accept any consequences under the law until such a time that the mandate is rescinded.