about clergy writing health care policy.
Ever since the Obama administration announced that the Affordable Care Act will require health insurers to cover contraception without co-pays, a tiny handful of very angry men have been shrieking that Obama is waging a war on religion, and especially the Catholic Church, and it will be the end of freedom and democracy as we know it.
These very angry men claim to speak on behalf of God. And all God-fearing Americans. The reality, however, is quite different. Today, for example, leaders from 23 different religious organizations released a letter of support for the new policy. Polling has repeatedly shown not only that a majority of Americans support the new policy, but that a majority of Catholics support it as well. So while the church clergy may rail against the use of contraception, their congregants in the pews clearly do not agree.
While the administration has repeatedly stated its commitment to implementing this new policy, it also continues to state its desire to work with Catholic leaders to allay their unfounded fears (see above re: end of democracy and civilization). Today, during a White House press briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney said:
The commitment to make sure that all American women no matter where they work have access to the same health care coverage and same preventive care services, including contraception, is absolutely firm. That’s the President’s commitment, that's explicit in the policy proposal. The discussion, and it's an important one, but the discussion is how can we, in implementing this policy, try to allay some of the concerns that have been expressed? And the President is very sensitive to that. As is Secretary Sebelius and others. But that's the issue. So, describe that as you will but there is no change in the commitment to ensuring that women have access to these important services.
This is on the heels of Obama adviser David Axelrod's appearance yesterday on MSNBC's Morning Joe, where he said that the administration is still trying "to find a resolution that makes sense" to these Church leaders, that it wants to "resolve it in an appropriate way," and that it wants to "work through these issues in a thoughtful way."
The administration's commitment to this policy is to be applauded. But—and yes, there is a but—it is time for the administration to stop wasting its time trying to "allay concerns" and "find a resolution." This is a popular and sound health care policy, and there is absolutely no reason why church leaders should be writing health care policy. Further, given their ultimate goal of banning all contraception and reproductive health care, there is no reason to think any "resolution" or compromise will allay their unfounded conspiracy theories that the president is waging a war on religion.
Today, for example, Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches reports that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has already preemptively rejected a possible "compromise" that has been floated. And because their hysterical hyperbole has no basis in reality to begin with, it's no less ridiculous for the administration to invest any time or energy assuring them that this health care policy will not, in fact, destroy the Catholic Church than it was for the administration to spend any time assuring birthers that he was not, in fact, at the center of a decades-long plot by the Kenyan government.
The president has the support of the American public on this policy. He has the support of American Catholics on this policy. He has the support of dozens of other religious organizations in this country.
It is time to stop "discussing" the Catholic leaders' paranoid delusions and focus on real problems facing this country. And reproductive health care for women leading to the end of civilization as we know it is not one of them.