On Friday, President Obama announced that his Administration will implement a policy that accommodates religious liberty while protecting the health of women. Under the new policy, women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services – no matter where she works. And as previously announced, churches and houses of worship will be exempt from the requirement to refer or provide coverage for contraception. But if a woman’s employer is a charity, hospital or other religious organization that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, her insurance company – and not the hospital or charity – will be required to reach out and offer her contraceptive care free of charge.
This policy has earned praise from a wide range of individuals and organizations, including many organizations that will be directly affected by this policy. Here’s what people are saying:
Catholic Health Association
“The Catholic Health Association is very pleased with the White House announcement that a resolution has been reached that protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions. The framework developed has responded to the issues we identified that needed to be fixed.”
“Catholic Charities USA welcomes the Administration’s attempt to meet the concerns of the religious community and we look forward to reviewing the final language. We are hopeful that this is a step in the right direction and are committed to continuing our work to ensure that our religious institutions will continue to be granted the freedom to remain faithful to our beliefs, while also being committed to providing access to quality healthcare for our 70,000 employees and their families across the country.”
“In the face of a misleading and outrageous assault on women’s health, the Obama administration has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring all women will have access to birth control coverage, with no costly co-pays, no additional hurdles, and no matter where they work. We believe the compliance mechanism does not compromise a woman’s ability to access these critical birth control benefits.”
“Catholics United has been calling on both sides of this heated debate to work towards today's win-win solution. President Obama has shown us that he is willing to rise above the partisan fray to deliver an actual policy solution that both meets the health care needs of all employees and respects the religious liberty of Catholic institutions."
Congressman John Larson
“As a strong supporter of healthcare reform and the plan to provide free preventative care - including contraception - to all Americans, I want to applaud President Obama for finding a path forward to provide coverage to everyone while addressing the conscience concerns of religiously-affiliated organizations.”
NARAL Pro-Choice America
“Today’s announcement makes it clear that President Obama is firmly committed to protecting women’s health.”
Senator Barbara Boxer
"The President has made clear that we can – and must – protect women's health and the religious freedom of all. The fact that groups from Planned Parenthood to the Catholic Health Association support this policy should put an end to the vicious political attacks and allow us all to focus on providing these critical health benefits to millions of American women and families."
Broad Coalition of Faith Community Leaders
“Today the Obama administration announced an important regulation that will protect the conscience rights of religious organizations and ensure that all women have access to contraception without a co-payment. We applaud the White House for listening carefully to the concerns raised by religious leaders on an issue that has provoked heated and often misinformed debate. This ruling is a major victory for religious liberty and women’s health. President Obama has demonstrated that these core values do not have to be in conflict.”
Jennifer Palmieri is White House Deputy Communications Director
Editors note: this post was modified on 02/13/12