Anger brewing on the left about new Obama health-care rules

Secular and religious voices on the left who oppose the Obama administration’s rule on mandatory birth control coverage seem to … Continued

Secular and religious voices on the left who oppose the Obama administration’s rule on mandatory birth control coverage seem to be getting louder.

The Catholic magazine America, among the best-read publications for Catholic progressives, today released an editorial saying the ruling “is a threat to our living as a church in the Catholic manner.”

Megan McArdle, senior editor of the Atlantic, wrote yesterday that it might be in Americans’ interest to be more flexible with faith-based organizations because they provide such a depth of social services (publicly funded in many cases, of course):

People who feel that the Catholic Church should abide by all secular rules “seem to be living in an alternate universe that I don’t have access to, where there’s a positive glut of secular organizations who are just dying to provide top-notch care for the sick, the poor, and the dispossessed,” she wrote.

As my colleague N.C. Aizenmann reported Jan. 20, the rule requiring most religious organizations to offer coverage of birth control in health-care plans is not new. It was announced last summer, including an exemption for “employers such as churches whose primary purpose is to inculcate religious beliefs and that mainly employ and serve individuals who share those beliefs,” Aizenmann wrote.

But religious advocates said this definition was too narrow. Last month, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced a small change that disappointed a range of major religious groups. Religious organizations will be allowed an extra year to comply with the rule, but the rule is unchanged.

The idea that religious liberty is colliding with other rights seems to be growing in recent years among legal experts of all kinds. It is interesting to see left-leaning folks weighing in on this.

The question is: Will it resonate during the presidential campaign?

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  • pauldm1

    The Catholic church is correct, no one is forced to work at a Catholic institution; which highlights the fact that we need to dissociate how we finance health care from our place of employment. We need a universal publicly financed health care system

  • NCzippy

    Really? A Catholic WP columnist, a center-right WP columnist who has always been opposed to family planning progarms, a Catholic magazine are opposed — I think that qualifies them as Catholics who oppose an Obama administration position that the Catholic church opposes (and let us not forget the strongly worded letter that was read out in parishes on Sunday).

    So far you have ONE pundit who shares their view — and who may be Catholic, for all I know. That’s against dozens of newspaper editorials around the country who support the adminsitration’s position.

    If you’re going to make sweeping claims like that, perhaps you should come up with some legitimate examples first?

  • Bluefish2012

    I agree with the President on so many things, but on this issue—is he out of his mind? Why risk the progress that’s been made over a position as outrageous as this one?

  • Bluefish2012

    I have to wonder if the president’s devilish calculus goes like this: He knows he will get a certain percentage of the Catholic vote regardless. He figures he will pick up more anti-Catholic votes than he loses Catholic votes because he calculates that there are more stridently anti-Catholic voters out there among the right than there are Catholics like me that will bolt over this incredibly stupid move on his part.

  • amelia45

    Catholic bishops are speaking and a lot of Catholic writers are speaking.

    But 90% of Catholics use the kinds of birth control the Church wants to be legally empowered to exclude from health insurance coverage. Catholic people do not live according to what the Catholic bishops want the power to enforce on others. Catholic people understand that more important than a teaching on birth control is the necessity, primacy, of individual conscience. And 90% of Catholics recognize that the teaching does not make sense for them.

    The Catholic bishops want the legal power to coerce others to live by a tenet of faith that only about 10% of the people of that faith are willing to accept.

    I am a Catholic and I am not stupid. I will speak out in favor of religious freedom – but that is the freedom of my fellow citizens to be free of religious coercion.

  • dennismaher1

    My spouse and I were livid to hear David Brooks and Mark Shields denounce this decision tonight on pbs news hour. Two men telling women what they shouldn’t be able to do and what the mighty church should be able to do. Disgraceful. I’m with the president on this. The rule is fair. No — it isn’t even fair enough. Let’s empower women and let them decide what to do for themselves and their families.

  • TopTurtle

    This is tremendously cynical. I suspect the calculus is closer to “as a public policy matter, we think women should have access to birth control in their health plans”.

  • TopTurtle

    It’s true that people aren’t forced to work at Catholic employers, but we’re not talking about churches. This rule applies to hospitals, schools and such.

  • nkri401


    It seems most unfortunate as I like to hear what those gentlemen usually discusses.

    Along with Mr. Dionne and Ms. Parker, that these people who I believe have enough intellect to discuss the nuance of bee industry subsidies fall flat on Catholic Bishops who’s crowning achievement has been enabling child molestation does leave me wondering “am I in a twilight zone?”