Obama’s birth control compromise: Will it matter to voters?

The president on Friday resolved whether Catholic organizations will be mandated to provide contraception to their employees. But the resolution isn’t sitting well with everyone.

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That question, playing out in heated debates across the nation, may be pivotal in whether President Obama wins reelection.

The controversy began last month with the Obama administration’s decision to require Catholic universities, hospitals, and charities to provide free access to contraceptives for employees and students. (Churches themselves are exempt.) The ruling is consistent with a provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires most health insurance plans to offer contraceptives at no charge.

The administration points out that many employees who work for Catholic institutions aren’t of that faith; neither are many of the students who attend Catholic universities. A whopping 98 percent of Catholic women are using or have used contraception at some point in their lives, seemingly adding heft to the president’s position.

As you might imagine, that mandate wasn’t greeted warmly by many Catholic leaders. John Garvey, president of Catholic University in Washington, D.C., said at the time:

“It requires us to contradict in our actions the very lessons that we’re teaching with our words … it makes us hypocrites in front of the students we’re trying to educate.”

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