Obama administration sidesteps religious institutions on no-cost birth control

Today, in response to the obstinate pressure by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Obama administration announced a new plan for no-cost birth control. Essentially, insurance companies will have to pick up the tab if the employer won’t. Via RH Reality Check:

Despite deep concerns, including my own, based on what transpired in the past under health reform, the White House has decided on a plan to address the birth control mandate that will enable women to get contraceptive coverage directly through their insurance plans without having to buy a rider or a second plan, and without having to negotiate with or through religious entities or administrations that are hostile to primary reproductive health care, including but not limited to contraception.

Under this plan, every insurance company will be obligated to provide contraceptive coverage. Administration officials stated that a woman’s insurance company “will be required to reach out directly and offer her contraceptive care free of charge. The religious institutions will not have to pay for it.”

So, if this rule works as intended, women will get birth control with no co-pays no matter where they work and religious institutions will still get that warm, fuzzy feeling of moral superiority because they’re not directly subsidizing their employees sinful lifestyles. I suppose that’s a win-win. But when a bunch of celibate men can throw a hissy fit and get out of providing a basic benefit that most Catholics want and most Catholic employers already cover on the bullshit basis of “religious freedom,” you know things are bad. And the next battle could end up worse.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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