Obama Promotes Controversial Mandate to Democrats, Some Balk

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 9, 2012   |   11:57AM   |   Washington, DC

President Barack Obama promoted his controversial mandate requiring religious employers to pay for insurance coverage that includes birth control and drugs that can cause abortions at the Tuesday Senate Democratic retreat.

The Obama Administration issued a statement re-iterating the “contraceptive mandate” requiring all insurance providers cover the full range of FDA-approved drugs and devices would remain intact. This mandate, issued in August, includes drugs that work after conception to destroy life rather than prevent it. The statement included a postponement of one year for religious groups that do not already carry contraceptives and additionally would not be exempted under last year’s narrow definition of “religious employer.”

The retreat was closed to the media but Democrats at the event at Nationals Park in Washington told the press that he “reinforced” his support for it. After the retreat, some of the top pro-abortion Democrats held a news conference to support the mandate, saying they will fight “strong” to keep it in place.

“It is our clear understanding from the administration that the president believes as we do, and the vast majority of the American women should have access to birth control,” Sen. Barbara Boxer of California said. “It’s medicine, and women deserve their medicine.”

The Democrats also said they would oppose a bill filed by pro-life Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican.

“It’s time to tell Republicans ‘mind your own business,’” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a pro-abortion New Jersey Democrat. “Ideology should never be used to block women from getting the care they need to lead healthier lives.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a pro-abortion New York Democrat, chimed in as well, saying, “The power to decide whether or not to use contraception lies with a woman – not her boss. What is more intrusive than trying to allow an employer to make medical decisions for someone who works for them?”

But not every Democrat is on board with the mandate, which has engendered strong opposition from pro-life advocates and Catholic and Protestant Christian religious groups.

Tim Kaine, the former Democratic Party chairman and governor of Virginia said, “I think the White House made a good decision in including a mandate for contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act insurance policy, but I think they made a bad decision in not allowing a broad enough religious employer exemption,” Kaine said, according to a transcript of his remarks provided by his campaign.”

“This is something that’s been talked about a lot today and I have definitely expressed my grave concerns to the White House about that. I support the contraception mandate but there should be a religious employer exemption that is broader than the one they proposed,” he added.

Bob Casey, who calls himself pro-life and is a Catholic Democrat from Pennsylvania, also called on the Obama administration to go backward on the rule. He has written to Obama asking him to reverse HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s decision. https://www.nationalreview.com/campaign-spot/290589/obamacare-backer-bob-casey-sees-what-hes-done

“It’s a question of whether or not we’re going to allow — as we should — an institution that has a religious mission to make decisions that are consistent with their faith tradition,” Casey said. “Unfortunately what this does is impose upon them rules that I don’t think we should impose upon an institution that has a faith mission.”

And Sen. Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew who is an independent from Connecticut, tweeted Wednesday that he opposed the administration’s mandate.

Asked about the Democrats who oppose the mandate, pro-abortion Sen. Patty Murray of Washington said, “I know that our candidates know their states and they know their own beliefs, and I back them in doing that.”

The Obama administration is reportedly considering a compromise on its new mandate that has caused national outrage because it forces religious employers to cover birth control and drugs that may cause abortions. However, the leading pro-life spokesman for the Catholic bishops says the compromise may be worse.

Congressman Steve Scalise has led a bipartisan letter with 154 co-signers calling on the Obama Administration to reverse its unconstitutional mandate forcing religious organizations to include drugs that can cause abortion and birth control in the health care plans of their employees.

Bishops across the country have spoken out against the mandate and are considering a lawsuit against it — with bishops in more than 164 locations across the United States issuing public statements against it or having letters opposing it printed in diocesan newspaper or read from the pulpit.

“We cannot — we will not comply with this unjust law,” said the letter from Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix. “People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens.”

Responding to the announcement, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated: “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.”

“To force Americans to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. . . It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom,” he added.

The mandate is so egregious that even the normally reliably liberal and pro-abortion USA Today condemned it in an editorial titled, “Contraception mandate violates religious freedom.”

The administration initially approved a recommendation from the Institute of Medicine suggesting that it force insurance companies to pay for birth control and drugs that can cause abortions under the Obamacare government-run health care program.

The IOM recommendation, opposed by pro-life groups, called for the Obama administration to require insurance programs to include birth control — such as the morning after pill or the ella drug that causes an abortion days after conception — in the section of drugs and services insurance plans must cover under “preventative care.” The companies will likely pass the added costs on to consumers, requiring them to pay for birth control and, in some instances, drug-induced abortions of unborn children in their earliest days.

The HHS accepted the IOM guidelines that “require new health insurance plans to cover women’s preventive services” and those services include “FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling” — which include birth control drugs like Plan B and ella that can cause abortions. The Health and Human Services Department commissioned the report from the Institute, which advises the federal government and shut out pro-life groups in meetings leading up to the recommendations.