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Compromise And Contraception

To compromise means to make a deal between different parties where each one gives up part of their demand in order to find a mutually acceptable agreement of terms which often involve deviations from original goals and/or desires.  I had to remember this when President Barack Obama announced his compromise between the Catholic Church and the Obama administration’s requirement that healthcare coverage include contraceptives for women.  The Catholic Church objected saying that such a mandate runs contrary to deeply held religious doctrine against the use of contraception and violates freedom of religion.  The church was already excluded from providing contraceptive coverage for women who worked with the church as employees.  But the church wanted an additional exemption that would exclude any businesses affiliated with the church as well.

The compromise is a new policy that still guarantees all women coverage of contraception but says that it will be the insurance companies and not the church linked employers who must pay for it.  It was an attempt to extinguish a firestorm of controversy that was being stoked by Mr. Obama’s conservative political opponents who used this issue as a wedge to drum up support against the White House.  Mr. Obama promised that religious liberty would be protected and the law that provides free preventive care will not discriminate against women.  The President shared the compromise with Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral who represented the church in this controversy as well as the head of Planned Parenthood.  Mr. Dolan said that the compromise was a step in the right direction but would reserve judgment until he saw the details of the new regulation proposals.  Women’s groups and many supporters of the healthcare law had urged Mr. Obama not to tweak the policy.  But when it comes to compromise, everybody has to give a little.  We should remember that.

However, conservative politicians eager to oust Mr. Obama from the White House have said that the controversy surrounding the birth control mandate was far from over.  Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he will push to overturn the requirement because it was another example of Mr. Obama’s meddling.  The rhetoric from Republicans suggested that this issue will be kept alive throughout this election year in order to rally conservative voters’ frustration with what seems to be the big government overreach of liberals.

In the eyes of people like Mr. McConnell and other conservatives, compromise with Mr. Obama means defeat.  One of the things Mr. Obama said he wanted to take to Washington, DC is a new sense of political bipartisanship.  Take it from the perspective of a non-conservative, we watched the man who promised to use more socially oriented political and economic policies for the betterment of the majority of all his constituents, including those people who think such policies are unwise, make a number of concessions on a number of issues that run contrary to what many of us thought he believed. But now that he can plainly see that the only thing his opponents want is his defeat, even at the expense of the nation, it looks like a totally different ballgame.

It’s good to see Mr. Obama act as if he’s waking up to the realization that he has to start standing up for his principles the way the people who voted for him thought he would.  Hopefully, it’s not too late for him to undo the political damage done to his brand by letting his political opponents pull him off his political course.  Instead of simply caving to the conservative wants and denying more women access to contraceptives, Mr. Obama works out a solution that protects women’s health and keeps the church from having to go against their religious beliefs.

But Mr. McConnell says that the compromise is riddled with constitutional problems that stem from government’s take over health care and tries to interfere with religious beliefs.  People like Mr. McConnell will say anything to make Mr. Obama look scary and the worst thing that ever happened to America despite all the evidence that shows the contrary.

The White House says the plan won’t drive up costs because birth control, like other preventative care measures, is less expensive than pregnancy.  Unless drug makers stop charging for contraception, the cost is likely to get passed to the employers regardless.  But conservatives say that Mr. Obama’s compromise is nothing more than an accounting trick by the insurance companies and nothing less than complete contraceptive denial will satisfy the sensibilities of the founding fathers, may they rest in peace.  While some groups like the Catholic Health Association applaud the move, conservative organizations like the nation’s Catholic bishops say it is nothing more than a continued attack on religious freedoms.  Nothing less than complete capitulation by Mr. Obama will satisfy conservatives.  And even then that might not fill their bill, demanding an apology on top of everything else for good measure.

By working out a fair and reasonable compromise Mr. Obama shows himself flexible and ready to try and meet people with strong convictions somewhere in the middle.  Some people might try to dismiss it as nothing more than the typical, political incorrect, flip flopping that signals a politician uncommitted to his or her beliefs.  However, depending personal political philosophy Mr. Obama will look like he has no political convictions no matter what. Flip flopper or not, the effort to compromise on this issue will show Mr. Obama’s commitment to soothe divergent political goals and not simply pander to one group’s preferred ideology at the expense of others.

Nevertheless, conservatives will continue their efforts to paint Mr. Obama as a cruel task master bent on getting everything his way despite his attempt at a compromise.  Mr. Obama wants to lead us all down a path of intolerance and inflexibility and unless he gives in to the conservative way of thinking on each and every difference people will see him as nothing good.  For conservatives, compromising with Mr. Obama may not be a four letter word, it just feels like one.

Monday, February 13, 2012 - Posted by | Life, Thoughts

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