Sebelius defends HHS ruling: “Virtually all American women use contraception at some point…”

Details, from a column in USA TODAY:

Today, virtually all American women use contraception at some point in their lives. And we have a large body of medical evidence showing it has significant benefits for their health, as well as the health of their children. But birth control can also be quite expensive, costing an average of $600 a year, which puts it out of reach for many women whose health plans don’t cover it.

The public health case for making sure insurance covers contraception is clear. But we also recognize that many religious organizations have deeply held beliefs opposing the use of birth control.

That’s why in the rule we put forward, we specifically carved out from the policy religious organizations that primarily employ people of their own faith. This exemption includes churches and other houses of worship, and could also include other church-affiliated organizations.

In choosing this exemption, we looked first at state laws already in place across the country. Of the 28 states that currently require contraception to be covered by insurance, eight have no religious exemption at all.

The religious exemption in the administration’s rule is the same as the exemption in Oregon, New York and California.

It’s important to note that our rule has no effect on the longstanding conscience clause protections for providers, which allow a Catholic doctor, for example, to refuse to write a prescription for contraception. Nor does it affect an individual woman’s freedom to decide not to use birth control. And the president and this administration continue to support existing conscience protections.

Read it all.


  1. It is interesting that the Chief of Chaplains of the United States Army that blocked the Bishops letter from being read to congregants is a Catholic priest and an Obama appointee.

    Now even the US Army is apologizing for the Chaplain Donald L. Rutherford actions in stifling free speech.

    Biography of Fr. Rutherford

    “Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio spoke with Secretary of the Army John McHugh about the chief of chaplains’ response to the archbishop’s Jan. 26 letter and the two “agreed that it was a mistake to stop the reading of the archbishop’s letter,” according to a statement released by the military archdiocese to Catholic News Service Feb. 6.”

  2. Interesting choice for Catholics. Obama and his dissenting catholics or the Pope and Bishops. Obama’s side is solidly behind the largest holocaust of innocent human beings in history; the other solidly pro life. One offers cheaper access to pills which seperate us from God and creation of life; the other is trying to get us to heaven. Obama side is pro grave disorder and distortion of that creted by God with One man and one woman; the other promotes the marriage and family.

    I think it is also interesting that we will soon be entering Lent when these type of questions should be a prime internal focus of all who claim to want to follow Christ and take up our cross. But to go against our own faith led into battle by Obama and his minnions should tell us where we are in our spiritual journey. It is a question each of us must come to terms with on our own. Those who choose to support and follow the Pope and Bishops need to pray for those souls who seem blinded by their loyalty to the party of death. At the same time, we have to question our love of the founding documents of this country and our claim to be one nation under God.

    I am leaving for the hospital now were I expect that soon my wife Greta will depart from this earth to a far better place. I doubt I will be around to comment much over the next few weeks. During this time of turmoil, I have determined to pray for those who are blind to what is going on in this country and that soon we might fight a way to stop the legalized holocaust that is destroying this country in much the same way as the death camps brought down Nazi Germany.

  3. Kevin Murray says:

    “…could also include other religious-affiliated organizations.” OK, just include religious charities, schools and hospitals and we can talk.

  4. Greta is in my prayers Mark.

  5. deacon john m. bresnahan says:

    This isn’t just Catholics who are rising up in determined opposition to the Obamacare tyranny coercing religious institutions. The canonical Orthodox Christian bishops group has come out unanimously in favor of the Catholic defense of the First Amendment. In parts of the country imams excoriated Obamacare’s trashing of the First Amendment. A poll showed more Protestants than Catholics embrace the Catholic defense of the First Amendment ( what an indictment of Catholic believers both as Christians and Americans.) And how much of this has made it into the biased liberal media???
    I had to get all this information off specialized internet sites.

  6. simple solution for our HHS Secy: Excommunication

  7. “Today, virtually all American women use contraception at some point in their lives.”

    That’s. Not. The. Point.

  8. ron chandonia says:

    Mark writes, “Those who choose to support and follow the Pope and Bishops need to pray for those souls who seem blinded by their loyalty to the party of death.”

    Meanwhile, over on Commonweal’s blog, one regular contributor has a lengthy diatribe against “political Catholics”–meaning, in this case, the bishops of the United States and those who agree with their position on this issue. One comment posted in agreement cites the letter in yesterday’s NYTimes from Marquette moral theologian (and longtime abortion-rights activist) Daniel Maguire, who declared, “The bishops’ claim that their religious freedom is threatened is bogus. The threat is to the religious freedom of their employees and to the conscientious freedom of the diverse public they serve in their tax-supported institutions.”

    I am not big on conspiracy theories, but I cannot help but think that this kind of rancorous polarization was predictable and may have helped to motivate the HHS decision itself. On the issue of restricting abortion coverage in healthcare reform, the bishops made pests of themselves; putting them in their place over birth control perhaps seemed like an easy way to minimize whatever support they draw from all but the most retrograde Catholics.

  9. Exactly! She’s like a broken record.

  10. naturgesetz says:

    Amazing that even Daniel Maguire could believe the absurdity you quote.

  11. I don’t know if this is a good example but I works in my head…

    Just because certain catholic women want and do use contraceptions is not a valid excuse to require Catholic institutions to pay for it. It’s like requiring Catholic institutions to pay for porn…not all will use it, but some will. That is their sin…but requiring the institution to pay for it requires them to violate their conscience…and cause them to sin.

    BTW – If the White House does not yield, will the Church close the schools and hospitals? Will Notre Dame close its doors?

  12. What exactly is a retrograde Catholic?

  13. Regina Faighes says:

    ‎”…A large body of medical evidence showing it has significant benefits for their health….” Is she serious? Several brands of oral contraceptives run commercials on television, and these commercials include a statement warning that the contraceptives can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clot, and certain kinds of cancers. Sheesh!!! And of, course, this does not take into account the damage caused to the health of the woman’s soul!!!

  14. Rev Mr Flapatap says:

    Many, many people have, at one point in their lives, gotten behind the wheel after a little too much. Should we all go get slushed and drive now?

  15. in my prayers.

  16. typical smoke screen tactics.

  17. Fiergenholt says:

    Hmmmm. . .

    I’m not sure I buy Sibellius’ 93% figure but if the truth were really known, I am sure it is higher than 80%. BUT there is a side-bar issue here. The “pill” in and of itself is not immoral; having an active sexual life while on the pill is where the line is crossed.

    I have been suspicious for some time that a vast majority of mothers of pre-teen-age girls work closely with their own “GYN” doctors to introduce the “pill” to their daughters at an early age. They do that to stabilize their cycles which, in teen-age years, can be wildly erratic.

    Now, I am not naive enough to believe that the contraceptive nature of the “pill” is ignored in those medical appointments. I am, however, quite willing to believe that active sexual lives among American teen-agers (of either sex) is far lower than the worst of the hyperbole. In fact, there is some evidence from interviews that “active sexuality” on the part of American teens is actually dropping. Woodstock is not their generation — it is the generation of their own GRANDPARENTS!

  18. “The religious exemption in the administration’s rule is the same as the exemption in Oregon, New York and California.”

    Well I think for many of us in “flyover states” that’s not exactly the trio that’s going to totally calm anxieties. All of those states are seen as hyper-progressive or irreligious in much of the country. Considering she’s from Kansas she should know that.

  19. Obama’s anger is no doubt growing by the day as this story explodes into national prominence. It will eventually be directed squarely at Sebelius.

  20. “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.”

  21. Many non-Catholics are also opposed to this mandate. If it applies to Catholics, it will soon apply to them. Moreover, Americans don’t like to be told what to do when it comes to their personal, private lives. Look for more folks to join the ranks of those who are opposed to this.

  22. - The US Bishops are readying to refuse to comply with ObamaCare laws that mandate paying for services that are a violation their religion. As spiritual fathers, they find it unconstitutional to be forced to pay for something that is immoral, according to their own religion.
    – Why don’t the same Bishops come to the defense of natural fathers who have been forced to pay for something that is immoral?
    – In no-fault divorce, millions of innocent reliable fathers and husbands have been forced to pay for being immorally removed from their own children’s lives. Fathers are forced to pay state agents, such as guardian ad litems, court psychologists, and court fees. Their wages are garnished to support their children and wife in a separate household in which these fathers are–for no moral reason–forbidden to live.
    – I hope the Bishops’ ultimatum is not too little too late. For nearly forty years, the government has been forcing reliable Catholic spouses to pay for something that is immoral. So, why wouldn’t the government expect the same coercion to go unchallenged by the institutional Church?
    - Bai Macfarlane
    - Director of Mary’s Advocates
    - Inviting Catholics to invoke the intervention of the Church against no-fault divorce

  23. Why do you say that, Kevin? Are you implying that the president is not able to control his anger? What evidence can you offer for that?

  24. Bai, are you suggesting that fathers should not bear any financial liability for the children they’ve helped create? And you want the bishops to agree with the notion that refusing to support one’s children is a moral good? Seriously?

    Yeah, I get that you’re against divorce, and you’re against fathers being separated from children (and children from fathers) as a result of a divorce. But why would you want to penalize children for what is (at worst) a capricious action by the child’s mother — if not both parents?

  25. “virtually all American women…”

    I don’t.

    Never have. Don’t plan on ever.

    Do politicians REALLY wonder why citizens like me feel like they don’t matter and no one listens to them? Either you agree with them or you are not important enough to be listened to at all? Government “for the people” and “public servant” has never been such a joke.

  26. No, I assume he can control and conceal his anger. *What I’m saying is that he is nonetheless getting very angry (on the inside) that Sebelius has walked him into this minefield and could cost him the election. Believe me, if Barry has to choose between his own re-election and supporting Sebelius, Sebelius will lose every time.

  27. You are not alone. I know quite a few women and men who don’t contracept.

  28. Let me say at the outset that I am a faithful Catholic woman. I embrace the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception. I sincerely hope I am wrong, but this may be an instance in which the Church will deeply regret its complete and utter failure to communicate and to teach effectively its beliefs on artificial contraception to the vast majority of Catholics in the US.

    You can debate the percentage, but you would have to agree that the majority of married Catholic couples use artificial contraception. In my husband’s family of 5 siblings, I know we are the only ones who do not. How many of these Catholics are really going to rally behind the bishops on this issue? I would venture to guess that most of them might support the bishop in theory, but will go right on using artificial contraception and will probably even push the button for Obama in the fall.

    I am 48 years old and a life-long Catholic. I have never (to the best of my recollection), ever, heard ANYTHING in a homily against artificial contraception. I share the outrage at our administration for the attack on religious liberty. I sincerely hope I’m wrong, but I have to wonder if the administration hasn’t gambled that most Catholics just won’t care.

    As an aside, I would be curious to know how many of the “Catholic” organizations that would be subject to the mandate already supply the artificial contraceptives.

  29. Sue from Buffalo says:

    You’re in my prayers, too.

  30. to mark–don’t know what your babbling on about christ and god has to do with this new ruling, and i don’t know whether the story you rambled on about is true or not, but to compare a woman choosing what to do with something that is affecting her body, not yours or the man’s, to the holocaust of ww11 shows your lack of intelligence and inability to think beyond the smallness of issues that do not concern you.

  31. George Mason says:

    @ brando- Your rambling comment is a bit hard to understanding. Perhpas you could use a grammar lesson. But, from what I can make out you would have done well as a tacit Nazi sympathizer in 1930′s Germany! “They’re being arrested and taken away. Oh well, it doesn’t concern me!”
    Mark, for whom I offer an Ave, is speaking of the abortifacient drugs that will be covered by the mandates. Abortion is a holocaust with over 50 million leaglly murdered since 1973.
    And this concerns Christ and God because, the Obama administration is forcing us to choose whom to obey.

  32. I’m so glad this issue is being discussed in blogs — but wouldn’t it be great if an honest public debate were held, without name-calling and demonization of the people who disagree with the speaker.

    As an Anglican, I stand with Archbishop Duncan of the Anglican Church in North America who has said: “The Anglican Church in North America stands by our Catholic brothers and sisters as followers of Christ in a nation whose Constitution guarantees ‘the free exercise’ of religion. As Christians, our faith and doctrine are at the very heart of our service to others in our community. Therefore, it is extremely troubling to see our government mandate services contrary to Catholic Church teaching. I call on all members of the Anglican Church to stand by our Catholic brothers and sisters, and pray for our elected officials to have the courage to stand up for religious freedom and overturn this mandate,” said Archbishop Duncan.


  1. [...] is only unfortunate that Secretary Sebelius has missed this lesson. “Today, virtually all American women use contraception at some point in their [...]

  2. [...] provide health insurance plans that include contraception without co-pays (which costs women up to $600 a year) is an attack on religious liberty. Not individual religious liberty–since there is nothing [...]

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