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President Obama's birth-control gamble


GLENN THRUSH

Source:
Politico
Type:
Media/Opinion
Date:
2/2/2012

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ABSTRACTPresident Obama's birth-control gamble - Glenn Thrush - POLITICO.com Skip to navigation Skip to content Skip to sidebar POLITICO Mobile POLITICO Jobs RSS Expand Search by Author Any Reporter Abrahamson, Zachary Allen, Jonathan Allen, Mike Berman, Dan Birnbaum, Gregg Boak, Josh Boliek, Brooks Bravender, Robin Bresnahan, John Budoff Brown, Carrie Buford, Talia Burns, Alexander Byers, Dylan Catanese, David Coller, Andie Dixon, Darius DoBias, Matt Dovere, Edward-Isaac Epstein, Jennifer Epstein, Reid J. Everett, Burgess Feder, J. Lester Frerking, Beth Gavin, Patrick Gerstein, Josh Gibson, Ginger Glass, Andrew Goode, Darren Gordon, Craig Grieve, Tim GuillĂ©n, Alex Haberkorn, Jennifer Haberman, Maggie Hagey, Keach Harris, John F. Hart, Kim Heitz, Dianna Hillman, G. Robert Hohmann, James Hoskinson, Charles Isenstadt, Alex Kady II, Martin Kamen, Jess Kenen, Joanne Kim, Seung Min King, Bob Krigman, Eliza Lee, MJ Levinthal, Dave Libby, Sara Lovley, Erika Mahtesian, Charles Mak, Tim Mann, Aleesa Mark, David Martin, Jonathan Martinez, Jennifer Martinson, Erica McCalmont, Lucy McDevitt, Caitlin McGann, Laura Millman, Jason Nather, David Nichols, Bill Nocera, Kate Norman, Brett Palmer, Anna Petersen, Olivia Phillip, Abby Pulte, Lauren Quinn, Michelle Raju, Manu Rauf, David Saleh Reis, Patrick Rogers, David Romm, Tony Rosche, Jedd Samuelsohn, Darren Schultheis, Emily Sherman, Jake Simon, Roger Slack, Donovan Smith, Ben Smolkin, Rachel Snider, Adam Summers, Juana Tau, Byron Thrush, Glenn Trowbridge, Alexander Van Dongen, Rachel VandeHei, Jim Vogel, Kenneth P. Wasserman, Elizabeth Weinger, Mackenzie White, Ben Williams, Joseph Wong, Scott Wright, Austin Zapler, Mike Date Search POLITICO 2012 Live 2012 Live Home Candidate Tracker Today's Calendar Latest Polls Election Results 44 Congress Blogs Burns & Haberman Dylan Byers David Catanese CLICK On Congress Josh Gerstein Joe Scarborough Arena Opinion Policy Money Health Care Energy and Environment Defense Technology Transportation and Infrastructure Video Headlines Bookshelf POLITICO Pro Navigate: POLITICO President Obama's birth-control gamble President Obama's birth-control gamble 558 Email Print Obama was polite but not contrite when he broke the news, a source said. | AP Photo Close By GLENN THRUSH | 2/2/12 4:38 AM EST President Barack Obama and his senior aides were more than a little concerned before he announced his controversial decision requiring Catholic hospitals and universities to provide contraception in employee health plans. Obama — in recognition of the issue’s sensitivity to the church — picked up the phone to personally break the news to two influential Catholic leaders: New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Sister Carol Keehan, head of the largest Catholic health association in the country and a pivotal supporter of Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Continue Reading Text Size - + reset Obama at Prayer Breakfast The president’s tone was polite but not contrite, a person briefed on the calls told POLITICO: He explained that while his health care law exempted Catholic churches from the requirement, he wouldn’t carve out other Catholic institutions even though the Vatican views artificial birth control as contrary to the will of God. Aides say Obama’s move, which has sparked thunderous denunciations as he prepares to address the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday, was motivated by personal conviction and his long-held belief that all health plans need to provide birth control to women. But the January decision was also a hard-headed election-year calculation with acute political risks — a bow to the concerns of womens’ rights groups that could alienate white Catholics, many of them critical independent voters in battleground states. The handling of the issue offers a hint of Obama’s approach to governing and campaigning in 2012: When confronted with a position close to his heart — and dear to the base — Obama is increasingly inclined to side with people who will vote for him even if it means enraging those who might, but probably won’t , vote for him. “Who are we going to really lose over this? Ron Paul voters?” asked a senior aide to a Senate Democrat, who thinks the administration should have handled the situation more quietly by punting a decision until after Election Day. “Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered. … Catholics who don’t believe in condoms aren’t going to vote for Barack Obama anyway. Let’s get real.” Added Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), an abortion-rights advocate who supports the provision: “I don’t think people’s minds will be changed by this debate. As for the president, leadership can’t take the election year off.” The vast majority of Americans back the use of contraception, and about three-quarters of Catholic women in recent polls part with the Church on its prohibition of condo.......