Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, applauded President Barack Obama’s sidestep today in the growing fight over state regulation of churches.
“Institutions who serve the broad public, employ the broad public, and receive taxpayer dollars, should be required to follow the same rules as everyone else, including providing birth control coverage and information,” said a statement from Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, which is the one of the Democratic Party’s strongest lobbies. (RELATED: Obama contraception ‘accommodation’ still imposes state mandate on church, actually)
Richards’ comments reflect the core issue in the fight — whether progressives can use the power of the state to subordinate religious groups to their own priorities by defining religious groups as employers.
That’s a very controversial claim, however, and its opponents include an increasing number of Democrats and left-leaning churches, along with evangelicals, Catholics and supportive Republican legislators.
Like White House officials and many other Democrats, Richards tried to spin the fight as an effort by religious groups to deny contraceptives services to women.
“In the face of a misleading and outrageous assault on women’s health, the Obama administration has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring all women will have access to birth control coverage, with no costly co-pays, no additional hurdles, and no matter where they work,” said Richards’ statement.
“The birth control benefit underscores the fact that birth control is basic health care, and is fundamental to improving women’s health and the health of their families.”
The latest in a string of health care controversies exploded with the Jan. 20 announcement that religious congregations and organizations would be fined if they decline to provide their employees with health insurance that includes no-cost contraception and some abortion-related services. Obama’s decision was based on portions of his 2010 Affordable Care Act, which puts most of the nation’s medical sector under stringent government supervision.
Obama exempted smaller churches that employ only people of their own faith.
Larger churches that also offer day-care, job-counseling, and charitable services would be included under the federal ukase, especially if they do not refuse to hire or aid people from other denominations.
The mandate also covers many churches’ affiliated civil-society projects, hospitals, universities, schools, charities and other centers that serve the public.