If you thought that the Obama administration's recent changes to the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act would quell the Fox News/right-wing fear mongering over religious liberty, think again. Fox & Friends Weekend this morning conducted an all-male discussion over the new guidelines in which their guest, Jim Towey, president of Ave Maria University, said that the contraception mandate is a “new federal entitlement, something like 'contraception stamps.'” It was very telling that he meant that as a slur, rather than a government safety net.
As Karoli described in an earlier post, the new rules allow religiously-affiliated organizations to avoid having to directly cover contraception yet still provide an opportunity for women employed by those organizations to get that coverage at no charge through a separate policy.
Think Progress has reported that a number of Catholic leaders have already come out in favor of the new regulations, including Bill Donahue of the Catholic League, normally a good pal of the Foxies. Think Progress also noted that “The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement to say they 'welcome' the new Obamacare regulations, and plan to comment further after a more thorough review of the rules.”
But the Friends held two discussions (this one and another with Father Jonathan Morris) about the new rules with two male, Catholic detractors without mentioning the support received elsewhere.
It wasn't clear to me whether Towey's Catholic university would qualify for the opt-out. Towey did, however, vow to continue fighting its lawsuit against the Obama administration, via the largesse of the Koch-supported Becket Fund.
But what host Mike Jerrick did make clear is what we should think about the new contraception compromise. Jerrick said, “They call it an accommodation. What do you call it?” But before Towey could answer, Jerrick added, “I mean other people say it's a gimmick.”
Speaking of gimmicks, Towey responded by characterizing the contraception mandate as some kind of welfare program. He called it “obviously” a “new federal entitlement, something like 'contraception stamps.' And so they've made this now available for free to all individuals, all women in the country and a lot of people are upset... If the federal government wants to do this kind of expansion, this kind of new entitlement, why involve religious organizations?”
It was also very telling that neither host objected to using food stamps to smear the mandate.
As Karoli emphasized in her earlier post, there's another question looming just behind all this self-righteous outrage: Why do the religious beliefs of employers who are out of step with mainstream American opinion, trump the beliefs of their employees? Especially when it's the employees who will or will not use the contraception coverage?
Yet this question was never asked, much less answered, in either of the segments.
In case you really, really missed the editorializing, Jerrick made it even more explicit as he wished Towey good luck with his lawsuit at the end of the discussion.