We Will Still Not Comply: Obama‘s Contraception Mandate Change ’Unacceptable’

After initially saying the changes to President Barack Obama’s contraception mandate were a good “first step,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said late Friday they have “serious objections” to the new policy and that it remained “unacceptable,” CNS News reported.

Under Obama’s alteration, religious-affiliated employers may refrain from paying for contraceptive coverage themselves, but their insurers are still obligated to provide the coverage for free — a change that still raises “serious moral concerns,” the bishops said in a statement.

“It would still mandate that all insurers must include coverage for the objectionable services in all the policies they would write,” the bishops said. “At this point, it would appear that self-insuring religious employers, and religious insurance companies, are not exempt from this mandate…the lack of clear protection for key stakeholders…is unacceptable and must be corrected.”

The bishops said they also object to the plan’s retention of the “nationwide mandate of insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacients.”

“This is both unsupported in the law and remains a grave moral concern. We cannot fail to reiterate this, even as so many would focus exclusively on the question of religious liberty,” the statement said.

Saying the proposal “continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions,“ the bishops vowed to ”continue—with no less vigor, no less sense of urgency—our efforts to correct this problem.”

Why the World Needs America

History shows that world orders, including our own, are transient. They rise and fall, and the institutions they erect, the beliefs and “norms” that guide them, the economic systems they support—they rise and fall, too. The downfall of the Roman Empire brought an end not just to Roman rule but to Roman government and law and to an entire economic system stretching from Northern Europe to North Africa. Culture, the arts, even progress in science and technology, were set back for centuries.

Modern history has followed a similar pattern. After the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century, British control of the seas and the balance of great powers on the European continent provided relative security and stability. Prosperity grew, personal freedoms expanded, and the world was knit more closely together by revolutions in commerce and communication.

With the outbreak of World War I, the age of settled peace and advancing liberalism—of European civilization approaching its pinnacle—collapsed into an age of hyper-nationalism, despotism and economic calamity. The once-promising spread of democracy and liberalism halted and then reversed course, leaving a handful of outnumbered and besieged democracies living nervously in the shadow of fascist and totalitarian neighbors. The collapse of the British and European orders in the 20th century did not produce a new dark age—though if Nazi Germany and imperial Japan had prevailed, it might have—but the horrific conflict that it produced was, in its own way, just as devastating.

Would the end of the present American-dominated order have less dire consequences? A surprising number of American intellectuals, politicians and policy makers greet the prospect with equanimity. There is a general sense that the end of the era of American pre-eminence, if and when it comes, need not mean the end of the present international order, with its widespread freedom, unprecedented global prosperity (even amid the current economic crisis) and absence of war among the great powers.

American power may diminish, the political scientist G. John Ikenberry argues, but “the underlying foundations of the liberal international order will survive and thrive.” The commentator Fareed Zakaria believes that even as the balance shifts against the U.S., rising powers like China “will continue to live within the framework of the current international system.” And there are elements across the political spectrum—Republicans who call for retrenchment, Democrats who put their faith in international law and institutions—who don’t imagine that a “post-American world” would look very different from the American world.

Read more here.

We all Pay for Abortions Now

President Barack Obama’s compromise on free birth control coverage left health insurers stuck with the bill, sparking worries over the precedent set by the new policy.

Obama on Friday made insurers responsible for providing free birth control to employees of religious groups, aiming to placate outraged leaders of the Catholic church who oppose contraception and to defuse an election-year landmine.

Free birth control is mandated under Obama’s 2010 healthcare law. The administration has exempted houses of worship from the rule, but requires the coverage be made available to employees of religiously affiliated organizations such as hospitals and universities.

Providing free birth control is not expected to hurt profits for the multibillion dollar insurance industry. But insurance companies questioned the principle of making them pay for coverage with no clear way to recoup the expense.

“We are concerned about the precedent this proposed rule would set,” said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s trade group. “As we learn more about how this rule would be operationalized, we will provide comments through the regulatory process.”

Zirkelbach said insurers “have long offered contraceptive coverage to employers as part of comprehensive, preventive benefits that aim to improve patient health and reduce health care cost growth.”

Employers who have signed on for such health plans in the past paid part of the cost of birth control prescriptions, while their employees also bore some expense through co-payments.

An Obama administration official said the new policy would not allow health insurers to increase their premiums, charge co-payments or deductibles to make up for the cost of contraceptives.

The National Organization of Women estimates that nearly 3 million employees of religious groups and their dependents are affected by the birth control policy. U.S. Catholic institutions like colleges and hospitals are estimated to employ over 630,000 people.

PRIME TARGET

Health insurers were a prime political target of the Obama administration as it sought to rally momentum behind the healthcare law, which aims to extend affordable insurance coverage to millions more Americans.

The law has added oversight of the industry’s premium rate increases and forced insurers to pay the lion’s share of their premium revenue on medical care rather than administrative costs. It also prohibits insurers from turning away patients with pre-existing conditions.

In the case of the new requirement on free birth control, insurers may still seek less obvious ways to pass it through, either to the same employers or other corporate clients.

Thomas Carroll, an analyst who covers health insurance companies for Stifel Nicolaus, said that, “in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t seem like a material cost to be added to the managed care company or the employer.”

Read more here.

Another Honor Beating

An Iraqi woman living in Phoenix has been arrested after admitting to beating her daughter and shackling the 19-year-old to a bed as punishment for speaking with a man. After the mother admitted to the crime and explained the catalyst was her “Iraqi culture,“ all elements bear the markings of an ”honor beating.”

Phoenix Police arrested 50-year-old Yusra Farhan Wednesday night at St. Joseph’s Hospital where her daughter was being treated for her injuries. The young woman told police her mother beat her with with a shoe before ultimately shackling her waist to a bed to prevent her from leaving the house. 550KFYI reports that the rope was secured by a padlock.

Farhan told officers that in Iraqi culture, females are not allowed to have contact with males, thus a daughter is not permitted to have a boyfriend.

Farhan resisted arrest and called out to other family members present to help her fight off police, according to court paperwork. Those family members also jumped into the fray and had to be restrained in the hospital’s emergency area, according to police.

Farhan was arrested on charges of aggravated assault, unlawful imprisonment, and resisting arrest.

The victim claims her father also struck her several times prior to enduring the assault by her mother.

The battered woman reported that she was set free only to attend school the morning of the 8th. When the victim arrived at school, she disclosed the details of her assault and was transported to the hospital by the Phoenix Fire department.

Read more here.

Is Samuel L. Jackson a Racist?

Samuel L. Jackson only voted for President Barack Obama because of the color of his skin, the Hollywood actor revealed in a profanity-laced interview in the March issue of Ebony magazine.

“I voted for Barack because he was black. ’Cuz that’s why other folks vote for other people — because they look like them,” Jackson said. “That’s American politics, pure and simple. [Obama’s] message didn’t mean sh-t to me. In the end, he’s a politician. I just hoped he would do some of what he said he was gonna do.

According to the New York Post, the “Pulp Fiction” legend repeatedly dropped the N-word during his cover story interview.

“When it comes down to it, they wouldn’t have elected a [bleep],” Jackson said. “Because, what’s a [bleep]? A [bleep] is scary. Obama ain’t scary at all. [Bleeps] don’t have beers at the White House. [Bleeps] don’t let some white dude, while you in the middle of a speech, call [him] a liar” — an apparent reference to Rep. Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” outburst during Obama’s health care address to a joint session of Congress in 2009.

Jackson continued, “A [bleep] would have stopped the meeting right there and said, ‘Who the [bleep] said that?’ I hope Obama gets scary in the next four years, ’cuz he ain’t gotta worry about getting re-elected.”

Defending his repeated use of the racial epithet, Jackson said it “became a part of my vocabulary when I was born.”

Read more here.

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