The Official White House Response to the HHS Mandate Petition-UPDATED

I reckon this can be considered “breaking news,” because the following note just landed in my e-mail inbox from the White House.

It’s the official response to the little petition that can, written by the person in the photograph above. Take it away (but not our freedoms, please), Cecelia,<

Protecting the Health of Women While Accommodating Religious Liberty

By Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council

Thank you for using We the People to make your voice heard about the Obama Administration’s decision to ensure that women have access to free preventive care with no co-pays, including contraceptive services, no matter where they work.

As background, the Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to cover preventive services, including preventive care for women, without charging a co-pay, starting on August 1, 2012. These preventive services include well women visits, domestic violence screening, and contraception, and all were recommended to the Secretary of Health and Human Services by the independent Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science.

The policies we have proposed exempt churches, other houses of worship, and similar organizations from covering contraception on the basis of their religious objections. But some religious organizations have raised religious liberty concerns about providing contraception in particular in recent weeks.

Today, President Obama has announced that his Administration will implement this policy in a manner that fully accommodates religious liberty while protecting the health of women.

As the President said:

“Nearly 99 percent of all women have relied on contraception at some point in their lives –- 99 percent. And yet, more than half of all women between the ages of 18 and 34 have struggled to afford it. So for all these reasons, we decided to follow the judgment of the nation’s leading medical experts and make sure that free preventive care includes access to free contraceptive care. Whether you’re a teacher, or a small businesswoman, or a nurse, or a janitor, no woman’s health should depend on who she is or where she works or how much money she makes. Every woman should be in control of the decisions that affect her own health. Period. This basic principle is already the law in 28 states across the country.”

“Now, as we move to implement this rule, however, we’ve been mindful that there’s another principle at stake here –- and that’s the principle of religious liberty, an inalienable right that is enshrined in our Constitution. As a citizen and as a Christian, I cherish this right. In fact, my first job in Chicago was working with Catholic parishes in poor neighborhoods, and my salary was funded by a grant from an arm of the Catholic Church. And I saw that local churches often did more good for a community than a government program ever could, so I know how important the work that faith-based organizations do and how much impact they can have in their communities.”

Video of his entire statement is available here.

Here are a few basic facts:

Under the policy, women have access to preventive care with no co-pay that includes contraceptive services.

All churches and houses of worship are exempt from the requirement to provide coverage for contraception or refer for contraception.

If a woman’s employer is a religious non-profit organization, such as a charity hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, her insurance company — not the hospital or charity — will be required to reach out and provide her contraceptive care free of charge if she chooses to use it.

There are tremendous health benefits for women that come from using contraception. Contraception is a safe and effective way of preventing unintended pregnancies which can be associated with increased health risks, and doctors also prescribe contraception for medical and health reasons, including helping to reduce the risk of some cancers, serious infections and cysts. Yet many women skip contraceptive care because of cost.

President Obama is also committed to preserving religious liberty and he listened to the concerns raised by certain religious organizations and took them seriously.

You can learn more about the policy here.

This is an issue where people of good will on both sides of the debate have been grappling to find a solution that works for everyone, and the policy announced today has done that. The right to religious liberty will be fully protected, and a law that requires preventive care without co-pays will not discriminate against any woman, anywhere. Here are a few statements from groups involved in the issue:

Catholics United:

President Obama has shown us that he is willing to rise above the partisan fray to deliver an actual policy solution that both meets the health care needs of all employees and respects the religious liberty of Catholic institutions.

Catholic Health Association:

“We are pleased and grateful that the religious liberty and conscience protection needs of so many ministries that serve our country were appreciated enough that an early resolution of this issue was accomplished.”

Planned Parenthood:

“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.”


“Today’s announcement makes it clear that President Obama is firmly committed to protecting women’s health.”

Thank you again for participating in the We the People platform to make your voice heard on this important issue.

They didn’t waste much time, did they? No real big shocking surprise that they quoted the groups they did.  It looks like they didn’t hear back from Catholic Charities USA in time to add their name to the list of “Catholic” groups that jumped the gun before the bishops (USCCB) officially respond. Pity.

You can check it out there at your leisure. You can read the official response at this link as well.

While you’re there, sign the petition if you haven’t yet.

So there you have it folks, all the news that’s fit to print on the HHS Mandate Petition. That’s the way it is, on Friday, February 10, 2012.

UPDATE: Looks like the ship has been anchored at Lando Calrissians’ planet. You may not be able to sign it anymore after all. “Seizure” answered, and he doesn’t want us padding the numbers, I reckon. That’s probably a record for fastest response ever, as the due date on the FoC petition wasn’t until February 27. I salute the 29,127 of you who stood up to be counted.

I’ll call this what it is, then: a minor victory for our side. Thanks for all your support and signatures. I’m a turning the keys over to the USCCB now. Here is their second response of the day and they say the only solution is to “rescind the mandate.” Good choice of words there, if I do say so myself.

God bless you all, and may God bless America. Now, use the combox below to tell the Administration what you think, y’all. Because you can’t reply over at the White House, so the party is at my place. Need help getting your juices flowing? Play me a tune, fellows.

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  • Lauren

    Looks like you’ll have to start another petition. Now that they’ve “solved” our problem and responded it won’t let you sign anymore.

    • Frank Weathers

      Noted, and post updated. They gotta let the NARAL petition get higher numbers *cough* so they can claim “victory.” But the truth is electronically recorded here. We smoked em!

  • The Catholic Science Geek

    They can’t be serious. They must think we’re all children incapable of seeing past their nice words and smiles.

    We know when you’re trying to patronize us. Please stop it and give me an honest answer. Just email a letter where you state the facts….that you’re overlooking 29,000+ in favor of whatever the boss man says is good for us. You’re overlooking the fact that not all women view BC as healthcare. You’re overlooking the fact that women like me were never asked to take part in these surveys regarding a known carcinogen and other forms of “healthcare.” Boy would I like to give you a piece of my mind. (Oh wait…I did…months ago. )

    Yeah, you won’t see that on any White House letter that mysteriously includes Planned Parenthood because we all know they don’t make a profit off this “healthcare” you’re trying to force upon us. Also, that 99% was pulled out of thin air and they know it.

    Sorry for the rant….but this “White House response” really bothered me.

    • Frank Weathers

      Let it all out, and take a deep breath. This struggle is just getting started. Cheers!

      • The Catholic Science Geek

        Thank you for understanding! I think I’ll go wind down a bit by finishing up my sword-brandishing Joan of Arc drawing.

  • Brandy Miller

    So, the Obama administration just compounded their error and added a ton of interest to it. You see, it just went from being a strictly “religious” freedom issue to one of economic freedom. Now, every insurance provider is REQUIRED to provide free birth control, free sterilization, and free abortion-inducing drugs. This is like telling retail stores what kind of products they are required to carry. What next? Pharmaceutical companies required to carry birth control pills and abortion-inducing drugs? Doctors required to prescribe to women birth control and perform sterilizations?

    • Frank Weathers

      I thought “preventative care” would make sense if we’re talking providing medicines that, you know, prevent diseases, or the progression thereof. But pregnancy isn’t a disease so, it doesn’t need to be mandated that it be prevented.

  • Margaret

    My response to the nonsensical email quoted above and residing in my in-box:

    We buy insurance coverage for our employees, but “don’t pay” (wink) for contraceptive/abortifacient/sterilization services. The insurance company turns around and “gives” these services to our employees “for free.” (wink wink nudge nudge.)

    In what sense is this a compromise? It’s nothing but a smokescreen.

    Mr. Obama, you are a weasel.

    • Frank Weathers

      How about he’s a snake, and we’re a mongoose? ;)

      • Jeff

        Who else do we know who took the form of a snake?

        • Frank Weathers

          I remember! But I also remember that we’re called to “be as clever as snakes, and as innocent as doves” too. I think, reading the USCCB reply to Seizure, that is’s pretty clear we’re on the correct side by standing with the bishops.

  • Micah Murphy

    Frank, you make a good partner in this, friend!

    I can’t say I’m surprised by the White House response. It’s common that politicians send out form responses that show they feel the need to “educate” the little people and show how they have support from the “important people” like Planned Parenthood. They are utterly clueless about how ridiculous it looks to us when they reply this way, because their logic is so twisted that they are incapable of seeing where we’re coming from. Those who have no morals find it easy to reduce moral objections to a matter of semantics and offer alternative words as Obama did today. We will keep on saying NO to the tyranny of this administration!

    Since I’m writing this in my private capacity, let me close with: Santorum 2012!

    God bless us all – AND HELP US!

    Micah Murphy
    Truth & Charity

    • Frank Weathers

      Good observations, and I agree that the level of condescension is absurd. Thanks for your support! Now we need to direct folks to all the petitions that are operating “in the clear.” See this post for the links, folks!

    • enness

      Seriously! I just wrote the White House using their form and said I was capable of educating myself, that is exactly what I did, and that is why I stand against it.
      I did thank them for the PP/NARAL quotes — keep your friends close, and your enemies closer, as they say. :)

      • Frank Weathers


  • Shannon

    This “accommodation” is just semantics. Nothing has changed. I guess he didn’t think we would see through it. We will not and cannot comply. I stand behind our Bishops 100%. We will see this through to the end, and I believe the good will prevail.

    • Frank Weathers

      I’m right there with you, Shannon.

  • Laura Curley

    I have spent the evening reading on the ‘new’ HHS mandate vis-a-vis the christian principle of “cooperation with evil.” Catholic Charities has sold out because the ONLY concessions made are to be for the ‘organizations’ not the individual. Catholic Hospital Conglomerate may be able to weasel their way through the loophole to work with the compromise, but Joe the Carpenter cannot. So, like the many, many other examples of pols taking care of their buddies, high-powered organizations get exemptions and the individual has to sacrifice his/her rights. This reminds me of the number of huge corporations that are applying for a receiving Health Care exemptions, but ma-and-pa shops are not… The politicians are standing by the other big and powerful… it’s all about power, it’s not about the constitution, and sadly, I don’t even think for a large number of the ‘faithful’ it’s even about the faith.

  • Michael Dahmke

    Well done, Frank. It feels like I’ve found a kindred Catholic Militant spirit in discovering this site and it’s petition. Stay the course, keep fighting the good fight, and we will be victorious. Christ’s Church is on the march!

    God bless!

  • Bob Yantosca

    I think what is happening is that we are seeing Obama’s true colors. He is a Marxist, and all Marxists realize that the Catholic Church is the biggest obstacle to their being able to have total control over the people.

    I think Obama is trying to lessen the impact of religious institutions because they provide a buffer between the individual and the State. In Obama’s view, the moral objections of individuals do not matter as long as his leftist dreams of single-payer healthcare with abortion on demand become reality.

    My father (almost 91 years old now) bravely fought in WWII (and was recalled to duty during the Korean War) to protect our country against totalitarian despots. President Obama’s socialist vision for America is not what my father fought for. I am appalled that we are even having to fight for religious liberty in the “the land of the free”at ths point in our history.

    God help us if the Church does not win this battle. If the State is allowed to replace the Church as arbiter of what is good and moral vs. what is evil, then we are in for some truly dark days ahead.

  • Anthony S. Layne

    I don’t know what hurts worse … the fact that the Obamination thinks we’re that stupid, or the fact that Sr. Keehan is not proving him wrong.

    Well, Cap’n … a couple more cold ones before we saddle up Rosinante and head off to the next windmill?

  • The Catholic Science Geek
    • Frank Weathers

      Go to confession tomorrow. Otherwise, that is outstanding! :)

  • Paul in the GNW

    Thanks Frank and everyone. Prayers and back to the grindstone

  • JC

    The following quote is from an article entitled “Nothing but Squid Ink” by Ed Haislmaier & Jennifer A. Marshall and is posted on National Review Online today:

    “Despite what President Obama said at his White House press conference, the actual regulations make permanent the “interim final regulations” issued August 3, 2011 — the ones that sparked the furor in the first place.

    Prefaced by 17 pages of the kind of rhetorical squid ink that President Obama defensively deployed at his press conference, the words that have the force of law appear on pages 18 to 20. That’s where the actual amendments to the Code of Federal Regulations are made by three departments — Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services — that Congress previously granted joint oversight of employer health plans.

    The bottom line is this: “Accordingly, the amendment to the interim final rule with comment period amending 45 CFR 147.130(a)(1)(iv) which was published in the Federal Register at 76 FR 46621-46626 on August 3, 2011, is adopted as a final rule without change.”

    Translation: The Obama administration Friday afternoon put into federal law the very regulation that drew objections from almost 200 Catholic bishops, some 50 religiously affiliated colleges and universities, 65 North American bishops of Orthodox churches, numerous other Jewish, Evangelical and Lutheran leaders, and even some liberals — and without changing so much as a comma.”

    • Frank Weathers

      Squid Ink, FTW.