So Obama announced this morning a "compromise" to placate a group of Catholic religious bullies who don't want any religiously-affiliated institution to have to pay for contraception.
In the "compromise," which has been praised by everyone from Cecile Richards to Patty Murray, insurance companies themselves will have to provide contraception to women who want it. giving the bishops a win (in that religious institutions won't have to pay to prevent their employees from getting pregnant), while making Obama look pro-woman (99 percent of US women use birth control in their lifetimes).
It's far from clear exactly how this will work. Insurance companies aren't going to just start handing out free pill packs; the money for that extra cost has to come out of the premiums employees pay for their insurance coverage. Presumably, employees at non-religious institutions would have to subsidize birth control for those who work at religious institutions, forcing non-religious businesses, as a Washington Post blogger put it, to "foot ... the bill for people who aren’t on their payrolls.
However the administration works its way through that morass, the result will likely be higher insurance premiums for everyone. Thanks, bishops!
And, of course, women will be responsible for the extra burden of making sure that their insurance company provides and maintains direct coverage of birth control under their special new, separate-but-equal contraceptive plans. (To quote Melissa McEwan, this is like "celebrating the passage of a mandatory waiting period for abortion as a win because abortion is still available.")
Additionally, insurance companies are required to let employers know when an employee seeks birth control coverage, which could be a major problem for women who work at a religious institution that believes that taking contraceptives is immoral.
And here's the larger issue: The bishops aren't going to back down. Even if they ultimately accept this "victory," (they won't) they're going to keep pushing for more... and more... and more. If women's right to health care is something Obama considers negotiable (he does), then what else will he "compromise" away under pressure from a few old, celibate white men? For once, just once, it would be nice to hear our President say, "This is basic health care, and if you're opposed to providing basic health care, you're welcome to forgo all government funding and tax exemptions."