Catholic bishops reject contraception plan

2012-02-12 08:40

Washington - Roman Catholic bishops have voiced opposition to US President Barack Obama's plan to require insurers to provide free birth control - despite earlier indication they might accept the compromise.

"The only complete solution to this religious liberty problem is for HHS [Department of Health and Human Services] to rescind the mandate of these objectionable services," the US Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement.

The government's decision to guarantee women access to contraceptives "remains a grave moral concern", they said.

On Friday, Obama said his government would no longer require religious organisations to offer free contraception on employee health plans and decried opponents he said had turned the issue into a "political football".

But he stuck by the principle that all women should have free access to such services, putting the onus on insurance firms to approach women working for religious employers like Catholic hospitals to offer them birth control.


The fight erupted when the administration decided not to exempt religious employers from a requirement under its health reform law that work-based insurance plans offer women coverage for contraception.

Officials argued that a woman who worked, for example, as a nurse at a Catholic hospital might not share their employer's religious opposition to contraception and should have the same rights as female workers elsewhere.

Roman Catholic leaders were outraged - even though houses of worship were exempt - and Republicans used the row to whip up a social issues storm, firing up their conservative political base in an election year.

After the compromise was announced on Friday, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan described it as a "first step in the right direction".

But the later statement from all the bishops said they will continue to object because of Obama's decision "to retain HHS's nationwide mandate of insurance coverage of sterilisation and contraception".

"We will continue - with no less vigour, no less sense of urgency - our efforts to correct this problem through the other two branches of government," the bishops said.

However, many other organisations, including Catholic ones, welcomed the compromise.

The Catholic Health Association said it was "very pleased" with the White House announcement, arguing that the decision "protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions".

The American Association of University Women insisted that the decision was "not a compromise on women's health".

"Instead, it's an accommodation for people who are truly concerned about religious liberty," the association said.

  • Vegi - 2012-02-12 09:04

    Who cares about bishops except the hypnotised congregations. Their whole existence is based on something that does not exist. They shun reality and pin their hopes on outrageous myths. News24 reported a tragic story in South Korea where three children died for lack of medical care while their sheepish and deluded father looked to the skies for a solution instead of taking the children to a traditional healer or a doctor. Bishops and people with similar views should be ignored.

      goyougoodthing - 2012-02-12 10:38

      The bishops are doing what all religions do: oppress. Down with religion!

      Anthony - 2012-02-12 11:10

      this is really a discrace--the RC church is way past its sell by date[if it ever had one]-- this comes from men wearing dresses who bend young boys over and have done for hundreds of years--they should be told to take their handbags a freek off one has to seriously question the inteligence of all catholics who believe in this garbage

  • Blane - 2012-02-12 09:07

    The Catholics worry about crap like this , what about their clergy and young boys , always a veiled silence when it comes to those issues?

  • Gar - 2012-02-12 09:25

    The fact that catholics are still against birth control is the only grave moral concern I can see here.

  • Stirer - 2012-02-12 09:30

    The Catholic church, it seems, is unable to come to terms with change. Everything is still in the concrete set long before the Middle Ages. In the fast-paced modern, civilised world, families can no longer feed and support multitudes of children. The world is overpopulated as it is, and will be unable to feed the masses now - let alone what will happen in a few decades from today. Just look at the starving people in Africa and Asia for a start. And all this posturing from a blind-sighted religious group who lack the brain cells to be logical.

  • Arthur - 2012-02-12 09:35

    Come on you bunch of fossils, contraception is necessary and absolutely essential. Move with the times.

  • Gustav - 2012-02-12 10:00

    Do they still live in the Dark Ages?

  • Patrick Saunders - 2012-02-12 10:19

    amazing how a crime against humanity like catholicism is allowed to flourish in a so-called enlightened age.

      Anthony - 2012-02-12 11:16

      well said patrick

  • seymore.butt - 2012-02-12 10:59

    if I am not mistaken, many christian priests and bishops are required to take the path of celibacy. Is that not a form of contraception?

  • Traygon - 2012-02-12 11:17

    Catholic Priests and Bishops should all be castrated...

  • Fidel - 2012-02-12 11:28

    When you have a bunch of people preaching something archaic without letting it evolve for the current generation, it creates a conflict, seeing as we live in times very different from the ones these religions came about in, and even suited. As a result, humanity is letting dead people lock us into the injustices that bred endless suffering. It was time to let human reason open up a better future.

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