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Will Obama's contraception compromise help his campaign?
The president tries to appease Catholic leaders by revising a controversial birth-control mandate — and may have won over independent voters in the process
Catholic bishops furious over a federal birth-control mandate want President Obama to offer an exemption to any American who objects to the rule on religious grounds.
Catholic bishops furious over a federal birth-control mandate want President Obama to offer an exemption to any American who objects to the rule on religious grounds.
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resident Obama is not off the hook with Catholic leaders. On Friday, Obama revised his rule requiring employers to provide workers insurance with copay-free contraception, offering religiously affiliated hospitals, charities, and other organizations a way to opt out, essentially by ushering employees into direct deals with insurance companies. Liberals who preferred the original policy say the compromise will do — but conservatives say the rule still steamrolls the rights of devout employers who object to facilitating birth-control coverage in any way. The nation's Catholic bishops say they want the mandate lifted for any person of faith who objects — not just religiously affiliated employers. Will Obama's revised policy do him any good politically?

Obama's deal will help him politically: "Most Catholics will be fine with this compromise," says Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast. Studies suggest that 98 percent of Catholic women not only believe in birth control but have used it." By opposing contraception anyway, the bishops have "gone out on a very long limb" and helped Obama "more firmly identify the religious right with opposition to contraception, its weakest issue by far." That helps Obama win over independent women.
"How Obama set a contraception trap for the right"

But even some Democrats disagree with Obama: Plenty of liberal Americans love that Obama "has picked a fight with religious groups over contraceptive mandates," says Ramesh Ponnuru at National Review, "but these people are already voting for Obama." Don't forget: There are plenty of "independent voters and even some Democrats who have serious qualms about this policy." And, compromise or no, Obama might have just lost their votes.
"The politics of conscience"

Regardless, this is no compromise: Obama's so-called compromise "doesn't pass the smell test," says Mary Kate Carey at U.S. News & World Report. The president is still making religious employers link up their workers with insurers offering free contraception — including the morning-after pill, which no Catholic sees as "preventive care." Obama has tweaked the wording, but the result is the same. "The administration is trying to pull a fast one here."
"Obama's contraceptive 'compromise' doesn't pass the smell test"

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