Tuesday, January 31, 2012
One of Barack Obama's great attractions as a presidential candidate was his sensitivity to the feelings and intellectual concerns of religious believers. That is why it is so remarkable that he utterly botched the admittedly difficult question of how contraceptive services should be treated under the new health-care law. His administration mishandled this decision not once but twice. In the process, Obama threw his progressive Catholic allies under the bus and strengthened the hand of those inside the church who had originally sought to derail the health care law.
I don't find the question whether to broaden the exemption difficult, but otherwise: Ditto!
E.J. also mentions as a compromise the idea of expanding the exemption but requiring objecting employers to notify employees that they do not cover contraceptives and to inform employees of alternate ways they can obtain coverage. But for many organizations this won't reduce the conflict much, since they'd view providing information about specific alternatives--essentially, referrals--as likewise material cooperation with evil. And there's the rub that the mandated contraceptives include some that may act as abortifacients, which widens the duty not to cooperate.
As I finish this, I've caught Rick's post linking to the very interesting discussion among moral theologians about the cooperation-with-evil analysis of this.