Video by Whitney Harris/CNS-TV
President Obama, acknowledging that the issue has become a “political football” on Friday announced a change in the health care rules governing women’s reproductive services. Charities or hospitals with a religious objection to contraceptives would no longer be required to pay for such services for workers, however, insurers would have to provide the care for free “without co-pays and without hassles.”
Some Maryland Catholics spoke out against the mandate included in President Obama’s health care bill requiring religious organizations running hospitals and clinics to include contraception in their health care coverage.
Cardinal-designate Edwin O’Brien said the Archdiocese of Baltimore will not provide birth control under its health care plan, even if it means dropping the plan altogether.
Father Rob Walsh, a chaplain at the University of Maryland, said that is as it should be.
“It is the moral teaching of the church that birth control goes against the human person,” Walsh said.
Walsh said the issue is not specifically about contraception but about being told to do something that is against his religion.
“The focus should not be on birth control right now. The focus is on freedom — are we being forced to do something that violates our conscience,” he said.
A student at the UMCP campus, Douglass McMillin, said the Obama administration is wrong and its policy violates the Constitution.
“We have the First Amendment that guarantees the right to religion and what Obama is doing is going directly against that,” he said.
The controversy does have the Obama administration taking another look at the plan, due to take effect Jan. 1, 2013. Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod said the president does not want to limit religious freedom and wants to find a way to resolve the conflict.