Catholic Health Group Rejects Birth Control Compromise

The Catholic Health Association (CHA) of the United States, the largest network of nonprofit hospitals and health facilities in the United States, announced on Friday that it would not support the Obama Administration’s accommodation on insurance coverage of birth control, reversing an earlier decision to support the accommodation. The Obama Administration announced in January that as part of the Affordable Care Act, employers’ insurance plans must include contraception coverage without co-pays or deductibles. In an accommodation, the administration made clear that if a religiously-affiliated institute objects, the insurance company will provide the coverage for contraception directly to the employee or student without institutional involvement.

The CHA said that it objects to any direct or indirect participation in providing birth control and emergency contraception. The Obama Administration would not comment, but an unnamed official told Reuters, “we will consider all the comments and suggestions from interested stakeholders before finalizing and implementing policies that respect religious liberty and ensure millions of women have access to recommended preventive services.”

Initially, Sister Carol Keehan, president of the CHA, supported the compromise, saying “The framework developed has responded to the issues we identified that needed to be fixed.” The statement has since been removed from the CHA website. Following her acceptance of the accommodation, Sister Keehan faced pressure to resign her post. The Catholic Bishops received media attention this month after criticizing US Nuns for focusing on “radical feminist issues” such as healthcare. In response to this criticism and threats to social services funding, the nuns launched their Nuns on a Bus tour, a two-week tour that begins today.

A previous version of this story indicated that Sister Keehan’s statement had been removed from the CHA website. The statement can be read on the group’s site here.

Reuters 6/16/12; MSNBC 6/16/12; Huffington Post 6/16/12; Feminist Daily Newsire 6/14/12; ThinkProgress 2/10/12

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