February 5, 2013 — Opinion pieces from the Washington Post and USA Today responded to the Obama administration's proposed accommodation to the federal contraceptive coverage rules, which clarify how no-cost contraceptive coverage will be provided for the employees of certain religiously affiliated not-for-profit organizations. Summaries appear below.
~ Michael Gerson, Washington Post: "The Obama administration's latest revision of its contraceptive policy was welcomed by some religious people as a breakthrough, even a 'miracle,'" but "[u]pon reflection, it seems less like the parting of the Red Sea than a parlor trick," columnist Gerson states. He notes, "The accommodation for religious charities, colleges and hospitals is effectively unchanged from the last version" and seems "narrowly tailored to better withstand judicial scrutiny." He adds that the Obama administration "has never shown a particularly high regard for institutional religious liberty" and in this case, "the administration views access to contraception as an individual right to be guaranteed by the government, and institutional religious rights as an obstacle and inconvenience" (Gerson, Washington Post, 2/4).
~ Tom Krattenmaker, USA Today: "Given the swift and hostile reaction by many in the Christian Right gallery" to the Obama administration's proposed contraceptive coverage rule accommodation "[h]as it ever been clearer that the culture warriors are more interested in a fight than a compromise solution, or that complaints about religious freedom under attack are greatly overblown?" Krattenmaker, author of "The Evangelicals You Don't Know," writes. He notes that data from a recent survey by the Barna Group "give statististical heft" to the thought that "[c]onservative Christian cries of 'religious liberty' violations often are ... complaints about the decline in conservative Christian power and prerogatives in an America that is growing ever more religiously diverse." Krattenmaker concludes, "Only when partisan evangelicals earn a reputation for sincere regard for religious freedom -- for all people's religious freedom -- will complaints about non-evangelical presidents and their supposed assaults on liberty ring credible" (Krattenmaker, USA Today, 2/4).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership