Contraception Compromise stirs D.C., religious leaders

President Barack Obama’s mandate to require all employers and public universities to provide free contraception, with the exception of some religious institutions, is still being fought in churches and by conservatives who say that it is not enough. It is now known as the “Contraception Compromise.”

David Hood / Daily Titan

It all began Jan. 20, when it was reported that U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released a statement with the issued mandate.

“Today the department is announcing that the final rule on preventive health services will ensure that women with health insurance coverage will have access to the full range of the Institute of Medicine’s recommended preventive services, including all FDA-approved forms of contraception,” Sebelius said in a U.S Department of Health and Human Services news release.

The controversy continued in a meeting in the Oval Office a few weeks later where President Obama, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Joshua DuBois, the White House director of faith-based initiatives and Vice President Joe Biden debated the idea of mandatory contraception coverage by church-run hospitals and colleges.

“…We’ve reached a decision on how to move forward. Under the rule, women will still have access to preventive care that includes contraceptive services — no matter where they work. So that core principle remains,” said Obama in a press conference to announce the decision for the compromise.

On the morning of Feb. 16, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform met in Congress to to hear “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?” which was a panel comprised of inter-religious authorities from Catholicism to Judaism.

“Southern Baptists and people of other various faith communities are outraged with President Obama’s so-called compromise on his administration’s abortion mandate,” said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “In his attempt to mollify his radical pro-abortion supporters, President Obama has declared that individual conscience is subject to government edict.”

The most famous line of the day from the hearing came from Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), where she asked, “Where are the women? I don’t see one single woman here on the panel,” she said, underscoring the perspective of the political left that have, as they claim, “left out women from the debate.”

“Since all reasonable objections by religious groups have now been fully accommodated, it’s now clearer than ever that anyone who still opposes this plan really just opposes affordable access to birth control — period,” stated the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a liberal think tank in Washington, D.C.

Obama and many others have labeled this as a “Catholic issue,” but other Christian groups have taken a strong stance as well.

“I’m not a Catholic, but I stand in 100 percent solidarity with my brothers & sisters to practice their belief against govt pressure,” said Rick Warren, pastor and author of the bestseller The Purpose Driven Life, on his Twitter page. “I’d go to jail rather than cave in to a government mandate that violates what God commands us to do. Would you? Acts 5:29,” he said in another tweet.

Both sides of the aisle are accusing each other of a “war on culture.” Those on the right say Obama’s intention is to disassemble religious, social and economic liberty. From the liberal perspective, it means an unwillingness from the right to make allowances to health care, social reform and economic fairness.

The mandate is set to be effective August 2012, just in time for Cal State Fullerton students to begin the fall semester. According to the bill, students insured by CSUF’s student health insurance would be able to receive contraceptive services via the Student Health and Counseling Center.

The fiscal impact of the bill on the California State University system is unknown at this time.

About David Hood

David Hood is a newspaper and print design enthusiast. He is proud to be the co-winner of the National Scholastic Press Association’s 2008 Design of the Year Award for Newspaper Design for his high school newspaper, Crimson, in Paso Robles, Calif. After serving the Daily Titan as a Layout Editor, he traveled to Washington, D.C. to the Washington Journalism Center where he interned as a business reporter at The Washington Times and garnered 20 bylines, four on its front page. He hopes to rekindle people’s interest in news for better public discourse and understanding.