Surprise! Most Catholic institutions are NOT suing over ObamaCare contraception rule!

Anyone who thinks American Catholics and their institutions are united in opposition to the ObamaCare rule regarding contraception has got another think coming. Lisa Miller EXPLAINS: Last week, in an orchestrated political maneuver, 43 Catholic entities — including the Archdiocese of Washington — filed a dozen lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,  saying that any mandate requiring religious organizations to provide contraceptive coverage to employees was a violation of religious liberty. So, even though 82 percent of American Catholics believe that birth control is morally acceptable, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called the lawsuits “a compelling display of the unity of the church in defense of religious liberty.” (The USCCB is not a party to the suits.) A much larger group of more moderate bishops has stayed mostly silent, fearful that to take a stand against the brethren would be to lay bare intramural fissures… The lawsuits are, in fact, very far from a “compelling display of unity.” There are 194 dioceses in the country; only about a dozen joined the suits. There are more than 200 Catholic colleges and universities in the United States, and only a handful joined the suits. Notably missing from this so-called display of unity are the dioceses of Chicago and Los Angeles, both of which have prominent leadership and robust, vibrant Catholic communities. Also missing from the list of plaintiffs are some of the country’s most prominent Catholic educational institutions, notably Boston College and Georgetown...

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The right-wing claim that the morning-after pill amounts to abortion is a myth

The recent controversy over ObamaCare and contraception has featured more than a few bogus arguments, one of which equates the so-called morning-after pill with abortion. Irin Carmon sets the record straight HERE: It started around February, when Republicans were still eager to talk about contraception. The Obama administration, or so Mitt Romney charged in Colorado, was forcing religious institutions to provide “morning-after pills –in other words abortive pills — and the like, at no cost.” It was, of course, a lie. Romney was conflating two different pills: emergency contraception, known as the morning-after pill, which prevents a pregnancy; and chemical abortion, or mifepristone, which ends a pregnancy of up to seven weeks’ gestation and isn’t covered under the new guidelines. Since both pills were marketed in the U.S. around the same time, even some pro-choicers have gotten confused. But Colorado happens to be the epicenter of people confusing them on purpose. It’s the birthplace of the Personhood movement and home to Focus on the Family, both of which have strategically called emergency contraception “abortion” on the scientifically unproven basis that they could block a fertilized egg from implanting. (Snip) Part of the reason people get confused about emergency contraception and abortion is because lots of people are confused about the basic biology of pregnancy: specifically, that it doesn’t necessarily happen instantaneously and that sperm can live in the body for several days, during which time a woman can ovulate and an egg can potentially be fertilized and implant. Regular use of hormonal contraception prevents ovulation and the chance for fertilization; emergency contraception essentially works the same way except that it’s taken after sex, by which point ovulation may have already happened. But according to recent studies, there is no evidence that taking emergency contraception after ovulation and fertilization will stop the egg from...

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How the Catholic Church almost accepted contraception

The Vatican’s position on artificial contraception would not ordinarily be grist for our mill on this blog were it not for the recent political controversy over birth control. But in light of that flap, THIS ARTICLE is of particular interest: Contrary to widely held assumptions, the Catholic ban on birth control is relatively recent and has not been consistently supported by the clergy and the laity. Prior to the 1930s, the church had no official position on contraception. But on Dec. 31, 1930, Pope Pius XI issued a papal encyclical, Casti Connubii (Latin for “Of Chaste Wedlock”), which for the first time explicitly prohibited Catholics from using contraception. As momentum built for the church to reconsider its position, Pope John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council, a gathering of thousands of bishops from all over the world, in 1962. The conference, known as Vatican II, resulted in a number of reforms that modernized church practices. Many believed that afterward, the church’s position on contraception might be relaxed. In fact, Pope John was putting together a committee to consider the matter shortly before he died. It then fell to Pope Paul VI to resolve the issue. In 1964, Pope Paul appointed a commission on birth control to advise him. As the panel deliberated, anticipation ran high; many journalists, clergy and lay Catholics expected the church to lift the ban… In 1967, the commission’s report was leaked to the press, revealing that a significant majority of its members favored lifting the ban, including 60 of 64 theologians and nine of the 15 cardinals. The minority who were opposed issued a separate report. After much consideration, the pope issued a formal encyclical, Humanae Vitae (“Of Human Life”) in 1968, siding with the minority and reaffirming the church’s prohibition of any form of artificial birth control. Catholic leaders quickly criticized the decision. Father Bernard Haring of Rome, widely regarded as the leading moral theologian at the time, called upon Catholic women and men to follow their consciences, rather than the pope’s decree. Countless parish priests agreed and gave sermons to that effect. The pope’s decision had little impact on Catholic women’s use of contraception. Two years after the decree, two-thirds of Catholic women were using...

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Gallup: Big shift among women gives Obama significant lead over Romney in swing states

   At the same time Mitt Romney is securing his hold on the Republican presidential nomination, a NEW POLL shows him falling behind President Obama in key swing states — mainly, it seems, because of his party’s foolish rhetoric about contraception: President Obama has opened the first significant lead of the 2012 campaign in the nation’s dozen top battleground states, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, boosted by a huge shift of women to his side. In the fifth Swing States survey taken since last fall, Obama leads Republican front-runner Mitt Romney 51%-42% among registered voters just a month after the president had trailed him by two percentage points. The biggest change came among women under 50. In mid-February, just under half of those voters supported Obama. Now more than six in 10 do while Romney’s support among them has dropped by 14 points, to 30%. The president leads him 2-1 in this group. Romney’s main advantage is among men 50 and older, swamping Obama 56%-38%. Republicans’ traditional strength among men “won’t be good enough if we’re losing women by nine points or 10 points,” says Sara Taylor Fagen, a Republican strategist and former political adviser to President George W. Bush. “The focus on contraception has not been a good one for us … and Republicans have unfairly taken on water on this...

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Poll: Big majority of Americans reject GOP claim that birth-control flap is about religious freedom

Efforts by Republican politicians and the Religious Right to frame the controversy over contraception as a matter of religious freedom is failing miserably, according to a NEW POLL: Americans overwhelmingly regard the debate over President Barack Obama’s policy on employer-provided contraceptive coverage as a matter of women’s health, not religious freedom, rejecting Republicans’ rationale for opposing the rule. More than three-quarters say the topic shouldn’t even be a part of the U.S. political debate. More than six in 10 respondents to a Bloomberg National Poll — including almost 70 percent of women — say the issue involves health care and access to birth control, according to the survey taken March 8-11. (Snip) Men are more likely to say contraception coverage is a matter of religious liberty, with 38 percent saying so compared with 28 percent of women who see it that way. Majorities of both genders — 57 percent of men and 68 percent of women — say the issue is one of women’s health and access to birth control. While a majority of Republicans see the topic as a question of religious freedom, only 36 percent of independents and 12 percent of Democrats agree. By contrast, 60 percent of independents and 81 percent of Democrats call it a matter of women’s...

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