Go ahead Democrats, shoot yourself in the foot

Headline in Sunday's NYT: "Democrats Urge Obama to Protect Contraceptive Coverage in Health Plans."The story describes a pack of Congressional Democrats trying to limit the religious exemption clause. They are lobbying the White House to prevent exemptions to religious institutions that serve a range of people and that hire people who are not part of that religious community. They want the government to force those institutions to include contraceptive and sterilization coverage in their health-insurance plans.Whatever one's view of the Catholic Church and contraception, this is a sure bet for keeping the religious liberty question on the front burner. Let's hope Obama is utterly utilitarian here and concludes that he wants Catholic voters and that he wants a second term.The irony: if the Republicans take Congress and the White House in 2012, they will curtail federal health-care spending for contraceptives as well as antibiotics (among other things).

Margaret O’Brien Steinfels is a former editor of Commonweal. 

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