Under ObamaCare, Catholic institutions—including charities, hospitals and schools—will be required by law, for the first time ever, to provide and pay for insurance coverage that includes contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization procedures. I predict it will never come to pass.
Just as much was said about that statment, we all recall the public outrage concerning the incentiary Rev. Jeremiah "God damn America" Wright.
Buckle your seat belts for what I predict we will be hearing about this in the weeks to come, especially from Catholics. The damage from those statements will pale compared with this topic that is, as noted by David Brooks, one of the most under-reported story of many months. I predict it will not remain that way, and in the end, the inexplicable reason for this policy position by the administration will be reversed, but by some time, much and perhaps irreversible damage will have been done.
As with so many other things since the day he took office, it illustrates in the incompetence of his advisers and the tone-deafness of this administration. I hate this thing happened. It will not be without consequences.
I am not Catholic, but I do respect the convictions and beliefs of my fellow man.
This is how The Wall Street Journal reported the administration's decision:
Republicans are seizing on President Barack Obama's decision not to exempt all religious employers from a federal requirement that health-care plans cover contraception services, an issue that could hurt the president's support among Catholic voters.
Mitt Romney said in his speech after winning the Florida primary Tuesday that Mr. Obama ordered "religious organizations to violate their conscience."
Newt Gingrich, a Catholic convert, told voters in Nevada on Wednesday that the administration "has declared war on the Catholic Church."
Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) introduced legislation this week that would overturn the rule, a part of Mr. Obama's 2010 health-care overhaul. And religious leaders say they plan to continue asking Catholics to protest the measure ahead of the November election.
Catholics accounted for about a quarter of the total vote in 2008, and Mr. Obama captured 54% of this group to Sen. John McCain's 45%, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. But Catholics tilted to George W. Bush in 2004 and Republican lawmakers in the 2010 midterms.
The White House spent months debating whether to expand an exemption to allow religious hospitals, schools or charities to opt out of a requirement that all forms of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration be provided to insurance policyholders without co-payments or deductibles.
Catholic leaders believed Mr. Obama would exempt such institutions and urged him to do so.
Many women on Mr. Obama's team made the case not to, while Vice President Joe Biden, the country's highest-ranking Catholic elected official, argued the perspective of Catholic organizations, according to people familiar with the discussion.
The White House announced last month it wouldn't exempt them—and now the pushback has thrust Mr. Obama into a debate about religious freedom.
Democrats, including the Obama campaign, want to keep the focus on contraception and women's reproductive health, a debate for which they believe the battle lines are so clear there is little risk of alienating potential Catholic supporters. Republicans are making the fight about First Amendment rights, hoping it resonates more broadly with Catholics, who are split on issues such as access to contraception.
Mr. Obama led Mr. Romney among Catholic voters by 49% to 45% in a survey last month by the Pew Research Center. But he fares worse among white Catholics, with 40% supporting Mr. Obama and 53% for Mr. Romney, and the contraception issue could drive a wedge between the president and the largely Catholic Hispanic voters who are pivotal to his re-election strategy.
Jeff Liszt, a Democrat who did polling for the Obama campaign in 2008, has conducted research showing that while Hispanics respond well to the idea of preventive care being covered as part of the health-care overhaul, some of their support for the law dissipates when birth control is specifically mentioned.
The calculus among Mr. Obama's political advisers, people familiar with their deliberations said, is that support for the decision among women and young voters—including Catholics and Hispanics—outweighs any potential loss. The campaign also is betting the issue won't be decisive for swing voters, whom they say would be more swayed by the economy or positions that restrict access to contraception.
"The administration believes that this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious beliefs and increasing access to important preventive services," White House press secretary Jay Carney said this week. The White House has said there is no first amendment violation in his decision.
"Women across the spectrum see this not as an infringement upon anyone's personal beliefs, but as a basic matter of protecting their health," said Stephanie Cutter, a deputy campaign manager.
Support for the president's decision among Catholic Democratic lawmakers is mixed. Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey said he was disappointed in the decision. Sen. Patty Murray, who heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said it won't hurt the president politically. "I think the American public understands that making sure that women have access to contraception is important," she said.
Mr. Rubio, who is often discussed as a potential vice presidential nominee, said he hopes his legislation will gain enough support to persuade Mr. Obama to change his mind. If not, he promised to make the president's decision an issue in the November election.
"The notion that somehow the president and the federal government think they're more important than the church in matters such as this is going to be offensive to Americans from all walks of life, including non-Catholics," Mr. Rubio said.