It is time for the Obama administration to admit it overstepped a boundary when it issued a mandate requiring coverage for contraceptives under its health care reform measures with only a narrow exception granted for religious institutions.
At stake primarily is the moral issue tied up with the right of religious groups to refrain from acts they deem morally questionable. That point is inextricably linked to the politics of the moment -- the survival of this presidency, and with it, the health care reform that is set to provide coverage beginning in 2014 for the 42 million people who are currently uninsured.
The mandate, approved by the Department of Health and Human Services in January, requires that all health plans cover contraceptives and sterilization free of charge. A narrow exception was made for religious organizations that teach that contraception or voluntary sterilization is sinful, but only if they employ primarily or exclusively members of their own faith, exist primarily for the inculcation of religious values and provide their services primarily to members of their own faith.