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The Affordable Health Care Act is the official title of what has become known, primarily to its opponents, as Obamacare. It provides for a variety of changes in the American health care system and has generated enormous controversy, some of which will be the focus of the Supreme Court in the next few months. But debate over the mandated coverage of the cost of birth control has erupted over the past two weeks and may well roil the political waters during the presidential campaign season, depending how Obamacare fares in its Supreme Court test.
Among the Obamacare requirements, employer-provided health insurance plans must cover various means of birth control. The Catholic Church and leaders of some other faiths had sought a broad exemption for religious institutions that oppose birth control. However, on January 20, the Department of Health and Human Services, with presidential approval, adopted a much narrower exemption and the ensuing controversy began boiling over.
The HHS religious exemption applies only to organizations that primarily restrict their employment and services to members of their own faith. This would include houses of worship and parochial schools but would not include institutions like hospitals; social service agencies, charities and institutions of higher learning sponsored and run by a religious entity that opposes contraception on religious grounds.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius argues that the narrow religious exemption is an appropriate attempt “to strike the right balance” between respecting religious beliefs and “increasing women’s access to critical preventive health services.”
Yet it is not quite that simple. The bottom line is that it would force an entity like the Catholic Church, which sponsors a broad array of secular programs servicing the larger community, to underwrite activity it believes to be sinful in order to continue those efforts.
This is an issue that has legs, especially in this presidential political season. The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan wrote a column titled, “A Battle the President Can’t Win” in which she suggested that with his approval of the HHS rule, “…President Obama just may have lost the election.” She noted that there are 77.7 million Catholics in the United States who in 2008 made up 27 percent of the electorate. Significantly, Mr. Obama carried the Catholic vote, 54 percent to 45 percent. Ms. Noonan also pointed out that “a lot of Catholics” live in “the battleground states.” Catholic League head Bill Donohue spoke of a broad-based public attack on the rule and the mobilization of Catholic voters.
Apparently feeling the heat, David Axelrod, a senior political adviser to President Obama, went out of his way to defend the narrow religious exemption but also seemed to back off ever so slightly. Speaking in an MSNBC interview, he said the administration didn’t intend to “abridge anyone’s religious freedom” with the new regulation.
“This is an important issue,” he said. “It’s important for millions of women around the country. We want to resolve it in an appropriate way and we’re going to do that.” But significantly, he added that he was “less concerned about the messaging of this than finding a resolution that makes sense,” noting that affected institutions have more than a year and a half to come into compliance and that “I think we need to lower our voices and get together.”
The issue of contraception is traditionally identified with the Catholic Church and so is the current coverage controversy. Yet the Jewish community certainly has an interest in the issue of contraception coverage, though it has nothing approaching the social service and charitable structure of the Catholic Church.
Our community certainly shares in the concern for any governmental policy that imposes a substantial burden on the religious sector’s ability to adhere to religious tenets. We must follow this story as it unfolds and be heard.
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Sources say seemingly irreconcilable differences between the 2 main parties, Washington and Tehran.
Instead of accepting reality, the President is trying to hold on to an illusion.
Those who suggest further capitulation to Iran are wrongly harming the interests of the West.
US Jews prefer to be like their non-Jewish liberal friends complaining about “settlements” and Bibi
New Israel Fund & its supporters must be countered; Israel’s in the midst of an unprecedented storm
PM Netanyahu this week identified ISIS and Iran as Israel’s primary threat. It is a planetary threat that carries the promise of peace.
Haym Solomon, overlooked hero of the Revolutionary War, was America’s “Funding Father.”
Latvia, July 4, 1941 they forced many Jews in the shul putting it on fire; everyone was burned alive
There’s blood on the reporters’ hands AND New Israel Fund for funding groups feeding lies to the UN
Respect & appreciation for our country is not only a civic value but an essential Jewish one as well
When words lose meaning, the world becomes an Orwellian dystopia; a veritable Tower of Babel
Israel, like the non-radical Islamic world. will be happy see the ISIS beheaded for once.
Kids shouldn’t have “uninstructed” Internet access, better to train them how to use it responsibly
What if years from now, IS were to control substantial territory? What world havoc would that wreak?
Can adoption agencies limit the placement of children to heterosexual couples only?
It wasn’t too long ago that Mr. Erdogan, in his determination to burnish Turkey’s credentials as an Islamist state at the cost of the secularism that had brought much economic and political success to Turkey, upended his country’s decades-long cooperative relationship with Israel.
Does the pope really believe that Father Dehon’s destructive anti-Jewish calumnies do not disqualify him from the highest honor of the Catholic Church because in his time everyone did it?
There was something else of great importance in play – something we would have liked to see him take into account before deciding to stand with the boycotters.
“Let’s get something straight so we don’t kid each other…[the Iranians] already have paved a path to a bomb’s worth of material,” said Mr. Biden. “Iran could get there now if they walked away in two to three months without a deal.”
Beyond the particulars of this tragic death, however, we should all be concerned about the possibility that a criminal prosecution in a major American city is being driven by fear of mobs in the street.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/obamacare-and-that-religious-exemption/2012/02/08/
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