White House says it won’t budge on HHS mandate
WASHINGTON, March 16, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Obama administration has reiterated that it will not revisit its plan to force religious employers to cover abortifacient drugs, birth control and sterilizations, even as U.S. bishops say the rule will directly cause hundreds of Catholic hospitals to shut their doors.
“The solution that was reached here … has been reached, and we firmly believe that it achieves the goals that the president set,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said at Thursday’s White House press conference, reports the Daily Caller.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. bishops conference, has said that in previous talks with the administration, Obama officials not only defended the mandate but encouraged the clerics to heed the “enlightened voices of accommodation” of left-leaning Catholics, such as the editors of the notoriously leftist Jesuit-run America magazine.
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In a statement Wednesday the bishops said that they are “strongly unified and intensely focused” against the mandate, the effects of which were decried in strongest terms. “This is not a fight we want or asked for, but one forced upon us by government on its own timing,” they wrote.
The administration had feinted towards an “accommodation” in early February by claiming that no one would pay for the insured birth control under religious employers’ plans, because insurance companies would offer the drugs for free. After bishops and others criticized Obama for leaving the rule materially unchanged and presenting a meaningless “accommodation”, the administration dug in its heels, saying that the “accommodation” marked the farthest the president was willing to go to assuaging Church concerns.
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago last week warned Catholics that they should save a copy of the Archdiocesan directory, which lists several Catholic hospitals under its purview, as a “souvenir,” unless the mandate is stopped. “Two Lents from now, unless something changes, that page will be blank,” he wrote.