Al Kresta in reaction to the press conference Friday from the President said “a press conference is not a policy.” Ed Haislmaier & Jennifer A. Marshall wrting in the National Review Online relate what actually happened Friday.
The bottom line is this: “Accordingly, the amendment to the interim final rule with comment period amending 45 CFR 147.130(a)(1)(iv) which was published in the Federal Register at 76 FR 46621-46626 on August 3, 2011, is adopted as a final rule without change.” [Emphasis added.]
Translation: The Obama administration Friday afternoon put into federal law the very regulation that drew objections from almost 200 Catholic bishops, some 50 religiously affiliated colleges and universities, 65 North American bishops of Orthodox churches, numerous other Jewish, Evangelical and Lutheran leaders, and even some liberals — and without changing so much as a comma.
Or in other words “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from Obamacare, till all be fulfilled.” Thus sayeth the god-King.
From this point forward, any changes to this regulation have to go through the formal regulatory process all over again.
The administration admits as much in the preamble to these regulations when it states that Treasury, Labor, and HHS “plan to initiate a rulemaking to require issuers to offer insurance without contraception coverage to such an employer (or plan sponsor) and simultaneously to offer contraceptive coverage directly to the employer’s plan participants (and their beneficiaries) who desire it, with no cost-sharing. Under this approach, the Departments will also require that, in this circumstance, there be no charge for the contraceptive coverage.”
Thus, instead of delaying final regulations until they could be revised to reflect the prospective changes President Obama outlined Friday, the administration went ahead and locked into regulation its original position, accompanied by a (non-binding) promise to revisit the issue.
The President famously promised an “aggressive” diplomatic drive and face-to-face talks with Iran’s leaders as a way to resolve conflicts. Of course actually talking with U.S. bishops prior to his supposed “compromised” that was severely compromised was not required. Maybe if the USCCB develops a nuclear weapons program they would get some more serious consideration.
How this will all end is hard tell at this point. Right now there is a game of chicken being played between the Obama Administration and Catholics (and well-wishers from other faiths and groups). Neither have blinked yet and are still racing towards the other. I see no evidence in the Presidents character for him to back down or admit any mistake – a common politician’s failing.
Despite renewed statements of concern by Catholic leaders, the Obama administration is done negotiating and will finalize its plan requiring insurance companies to provide free contraception to women working and studying at religious institutions, President Obama’s chief of staff said Sunday.
Jacob Lew told “Fox News Sunday” that the compromise offered last week to address objections by the Catholic Church is clear and consistent with the president’s “very deep belief that a woman has a right to all forms of preventive health care, including contraception.”
“We have set out our policy,” Lew said. “We are going to finalize it in the final rules, but I think what the president announced on Friday is a balanced approach that meets the concerns raised both in terms of access to health care and in terms of protecting religious liberties, and we think that’s the right approach.” [Via Creative Minority Report]
So the President is an allowed a “very deep belief” and Catholics are not allowed a deeply held conviction, in fact teaching, backed up by the whole history of the Church extending back to the book of Genesis. Pro-choice once again means choice for me, but not for you.
It is also illustrative in how they form the argument as a women’s health issue. What they are actually advocating for is both contraception and sterilization coverage for both men and women. Yet almost all the arguments made take up the “women’s health” issue. This is of course the pregnancy-as-discease focus where men are just carriers of the disease and women the victims. They are not only calling this a right, but including in that right the demand that employers contribute to it agains their own consciences. More evidence of the erosion of rights where everything is a right except what is in the Bill of Rights. Rights that are wrong would be delicious irony if it wasn’t so bile-tasting going down.
In my view I believe that massive pressure must be maintained against the Obama Administration regarding this, but the President and his administration is not going to resolve this in a satisfactory way. Most likely legislation such as the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act” (HR 1179/S. 1467)” bill is what will be required. Quite a sad commentary that we need legislation for something explicitly stated in the Constitution. So this is where most of the effort should be placed to get this through the Congress and then the Senate. The Congress part should be rather easy, less so the Senate where of course it will be framed by the media as anything but a religious rights issue.
The other path to overturning this is overturning the Obama Administration by voting him out of office. I wish this was as sure a deal as so many commentators say it is, but I have grown wise enough through bitter disappointment to no longer ever assert with any confidence such an outcome. Too many times I thought no way could some politician get reelected only to see them reelected.
As Mark Shea writes “Resist the Tyrant”.