It has been asserted in various outlets that many states already mandate contraceptive coverage, that the Catholic church has been content to live with those mandates, and so that the current firestorm over the ObamaCare provision must just be something cooked up by Republican consultants. Here is a response from the National Council of Catholic Bishops via NR’s Kathryn Lopez:
6. The federal mandate is much stricter than existing state mandates. HHS chose the narrowest state-level religious exemption as the model for its own. That exemption was drafted by the ACLU and exists in only 3 states (New York, California, Oregon). Even without a religious exemption, religious employers can already avoid the contraceptive mandates in 28 states by self-insuring their prescription drug coverage, dropping that coverage altogether, or opting for regulation under a federal law (ERISA) that pre-empts state law. The HHS mandate closes off all these avenues of relief.
More on the controversy from my Cato colleague Roger Pilon and from Jonathan Rauch. And: John Cochrane on the wider folly of letting the feds mandate contraceptive coverage in the first place: “Sure, churches should be exempt. We should all be exempt.”