The Obama administration’s contraception mandate touched off a firestorm when it was announced on January 20. Lawsuits challenging the rule were soon filed. Republican presidential hopefuls vowed to reverse it. Bills to do just that were introduced in Congress. The nation’s Catholic bishops (whose institutions would be most dramatically affected by the mandate) said — emphatically — that they would not comply.
At this point, it still remains unclear how much calm the administration’s February 10 “compromise” on the mandate will restore. The “compromise” conceded nothing to religious liberty; it was not meant to. It was meant to stop the political bleeding. The New York Times headline said that it “aimed to please the Catholic left.” It did so by applying a verbal salve. On cue, Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, said that she was “very pleased.” Liberal Catholic journalists and politicians were happy too. The bishops’ initial response was conciliatory as well, but on a careful second look they saw through the charade.
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