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USCCB insists: White House spreading falsehoods about contraceptive mandate

February 07, 2012

Less than a month after the Catholic Health Association (CHA) praised the appointment of Cecilia Muñoz as the Obama administration’s director of domestic policy council, Muñoz took critics of the administration’s contraceptive mandate to task--prompting a sharp response from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Muñoz--whom CHA President Sister Carol Keehan lauded for her “thoughtful, compassionate approach to public policy” just ten days before the announcement of the mandate--wrote on the White House Blog that

  • “Churches are exempt from the new rules”
  • “No individual health care provider will be forced to prescribe contraception”
  • “No individual will be forced to buy or use contraception”
  • “Drugs that cause abortion are not covered by this policy”
  • “Over half of Americans already live in the 28 States that require insurance companies cover contraception”
  • “Contraception is used by most women: According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, most women, including 98 percent of Catholic women, have used contraception.”
  • “Contraception coverage reduces costs”
  • “The Obama Administration is committed to both respecting religious beliefs and increasing access to important preventive services”

In its response, the USCCB stated that each of Muñoz’s claims is false, misleading, or irrelevant. In countering Muñoz’s assertion that “drugs that cause abortion are not covered by this policy,” for example, the USCCB stated:

False. The policy already requires coverage of Ulipristal (HRP 2000 or “Ella”), a drug that is a close analogue to RU-486 (mifepristone) and has the same effects. RU-486 itself is also being tested for possible use as an “emergency contraceptive” – and if the FDA approves it for that purpose, it will automatically be mandated as well.

Responding to Muñoz’s assertion that “no individual will be forced to buy or use contraception,” the USCCB stated:

The statement that no one will be forced to buy it is false. Women who want contraception will be able to obtain it without co-pay or deductible precisely because women who do not want contraception will be forced to help pay for it through their premiums. This mandate passes costs from those who want the service, to those who object to it.

Responding to Muñoz’s assertion that “most women, including 98 percent of Catholic women, have used contraception,” the USCCB stated:

This is irrelevant, and it is presented in a misleading way. If a survey found that 98% of people had lied, cheated on their taxes, or had sex outside of marriage, would the government claim it can force everyone to do so? But this claim also mangles the data to create a false impression. The study actually says this is true of 98% of “sexually experienced” women. The more relevant statistic is that the drugs and devices subject to this mandate (sterilization, hormonal prescription contraceptives and IUDs) are used by 69% of those women who are “sexually active” and “do not want to become pregnant.”

Surely that is a minority of the general public, yet every man and woman who needs health insurance will have to pay for this coverage. The drugs that the mandate’s supporters say will be most advanced by the new rule, because they have the highest co-pays and deductibles now, are powerful but risky injectable and implantable hormonal contraceptives, now used by perhaps 5% of women. The mandate is intended to change women’s reproductive behavior, not only reflect it.


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Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Feb. 08, 2012 2:07 PM ET USA

    The positive spin, if such there is, on this situation is that the Bishops are now in "put up or shut up" mode. They can't have Caesar and God, too. Also a quart low on the c-stuff, the thought of a few going to jail over the very topic they forbade their priests to preach about is too sweet for me not to contemplate. Pray for me to have the grace to pray for them.

  • Posted by: rpp - Feb. 07, 2012 8:52 PM ET USA

    Hold the presses!! Obama and his lackeys were caught in a lie! Oh, wait, I guess that is old news and nothing surprising.

  • Posted by: JimKcda - Feb. 07, 2012 6:06 PM ET USA

    Is it true that 98%, or is it "only" 69%, or perhaps a majority, or even "many" Catholic women use contraception? Is it also true that 28 states already require this type of law and Catholic hospitals in those states now comply? Is it also true that some Bishops will accept this rule if it "only" covers contraception? If any of that is true, we will be in deep trouble when judgement day arrives for us, our leaders and our Church.

  • Posted by: Hal - Feb. 07, 2012 10:25 AM ET USA

    Wow. Caesar lies. What a shock. I'm sorry if I'm a quart low on charity here, but the USCCB enabled Keenan and her ilk all these years in the health care system and now they need to muck out the stables. If they have the courage.

  • Posted by: Mirabilis - Feb. 07, 2012 9:03 AM ET USA

    Clearly, if the Obama administration were not trying to push more people toward the use of contraception and sterilization they would not be mandating the coverage. Further, what is not mentioned is that the contraceptive mentality that has been both pushed and accepted by our culture leads to both a general acceptance of abortion as necessary when contraception "fails" and cheapening of the gift of sexual love. None of which should Catholics be forced to support.