This afternoon, President Obama announced the "accommodation" his administration plans to offer church-affiliated groups. Speaking from the White House, he explained that, under the new plan, universities and institutions connected with faiths that oppose contraception and associated services will not have to directly offer them.
That being said, the insurers that these churches contract with will, indeed, be forced to cover contraceptives for those employees who wish to receive them. This latter rule will apply to all insurance companies serving religious-affiliated non-profits and institutions.
Obama said that the new-and-improved birth control, sterilization and abortion-inducing drug policy will protect religious liberties, while assuring women's access to contraception reports the AP. He also urged politicians not to use the dilemma as a divisive political issue.
"I understand some folks in Washington want to treat this as another political wedge issue. But it shouldn't be. I certainly never saw it that way," the president also said. "This is an issue where people of good will on both sides of the debate have been sorting through some very complicated questions."
CNN has more regarding initial reaction to the so-called compromise:
...conservative Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, insisted the revised rule still violates the Constitution.
"This ObamaCare rule still tramples on Americans' First Amendment right to freedom of religion," Jordan said in a written statement. "It's a fig leaf, not a compromise. Whether they are affiliated with a church or not, employers will still be forced to pay an insurance company for coverage that includes abortion-inducing drugs."
Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski called the compromise "too little, too late."
In a press release, Catholic League President Bill Donohue reflected these same ideals. Here's a portion of his statements regarding the matter:
"President Obama’s latest ploy just adds insult to injury. If the insurance plan of a Catholic institution must cover services it deems immoral, then such a healthcare plan is offensive, plain and simple.
The Catholic League, for example, uses Christian Brothers as its insurance carrier. So if a future employee of ours were to demand free abortion-inducing drugs, and she is allowed to request free drugs from Christian Brothers, then the rest of us would, in effect, be subsidizing her abortion. This is outrageous and will not stand judicial scrutiny.
When it comes to the First Amendment, there is no such thing as a half loaf. We want now, and in the future, the same rights we have enjoyed since the beginning of the republic."
While this does exempt church-related groups from directly paying for the services, it raises an important question. When a company of institution contracts with an insurer, all associated fees would most likely be taken into account. If insurers are forced to pay for and cover contraceptives for faith-based charities, won't the fees associated with this coverage still be passed on to the church groups and individuals buying into the plans?
This is likely a point that will be raised and explored as the debate surrounding the mandate continues.
This is a breaking news story. Stay tuned for updates.