Obama supporters fret he'll grant contraception exemptions to Catholic hospitals

Alternate headline: Obama supporters fret he’ll defend religious liberty.

Just as Nancy Pelosi can’t countenance the collective Catholic conscience, so Obama supporters can’t countenance the president’s oh-so-hesitant support for religious liberty. The president has at least heard the concerns of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops about a new requirement that health insurers cover abortifacients: Earlier this month, Obama met with Archbishop Timothy Dolan, the head of the USCCB. Dolan and the U.S. bishops want the president to grant Catholic hospitals an exemption from the requirement.

But now, ABC’s Jake Tapper reports, Obama supporters are concerned that — if the president does respond to the bishops’ request — he’ll lose badly-needed support from liberal women in November.

The USCCB has called the new birth control coverage requirement “an unprecedented attack on religious liberty.” So it is — and, as such, it ought to be of concern to more than just Catholics. From the very beginning, as Tim Carney excellently chronicled at The Washington Examiner, the new requirement represented the triumph of special interests over conscience protections and freedom:

This free-pills-for-all proposal embodies two dark themes of the Obama era: cronyism and trampling on the freedom of conscience.

Once again, Obama, who pretends to be battling the special interests, is rewarding powerful lobbies that support him. Even worse, the federal rule, which would effectively force everyone to purchase insurance that covers abortifacient contraceptives, also reveals the true shape of the Culture War in America: The Left uses the brutal tool of the government to impose its morality on everyone, forcing religious conservatives to act against conscience, all the while howling about imminent “theocracy.”

Pharmaceuticals are the quintessential “special interest.” Drugmakers have spent $2.2 billion on lobbying since 1998, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, more than any other industry. In the Obama era, the drug industry’s $635 million lobbying tab exceeds that of Wall Street and the oil and gas industry, combined.

For the 2010 election, as a reward for passing Obamacare, Big Pharma spent millions in ads boosting vulnerable Democratic senators including Harry Reid. Obamacare subsidized the drug companies in many ways, but it’s hard to get better than this “free contraception” rule. Obamacare requires individuals to carry insurance and forces large employers to insure their workers. It also prohibits insurance companies from turning down applicants, and subsidizes more people’s insurance.

Obama will let politics dictate his decision again. It’s up to the American people — including those liberal women who otherwise support the purchase and use of abortifacients — to demonstrate that we’d rather be free to follow our consciences, whatever those “things” might dictate to us, than have “free” contraception, which, importantly, won’t be free at all, but yet one cost driver for those who otherwise would have no need to pay for contraception coverage (think gay couples, liberals!) in the first place.