The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged the Senate today to adopt legislation sponsored by Sen. Roy Blunt that would essentially block the Obama administration’s new contraception rule.
The Missouri Republican’s bill, which he has sought to attach to a transportation bill making its way through the Senate, would allow employers to opt out of a rule requiring insurance plans to include contraception coverage for women if they have moral objections.
White House spokesman Jay Carney today called the Blunt proposal “dangerous and ... wrong.”
Although a number of Catholic health organizations and institutions have backed a compromise announced by President Barack Obama allowing organizations affiliated with the church to not pay for such coverage, the extremely conservative Conference of Catholic Bishops has not been swayed.
“It is little or no comfort that, rather than being forced to propose such coverage, religious organizations will simply have it imposed on them,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo said.
“The argument that they will not really have to subsidize the coverage, because insurers will offer it ‘free of charge,’ runs up against the reality that this coverage will be integrated into their overall health plan, and subsidized with the premiums paid by employer and employee for that plan,” DiNardo added.
The conference has increasingly become a force in U.S. politics over the past several years as its leadership has aligned itself with Protestant anti-abortion groups. And although its influence on Catholics in general is unclear, it has significant sway over a group of Catholic lawmakers in the House and Senate.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.