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Who is the White House Serving, the People or the Bishops?

Written by Sarah Lipton-Lubet, Policy Counsel for the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, forRH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post. Over the last few weeks, the rumor mills have been churning, with everyone asking: just how much influence does the powerful U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ lobby have in Washington? A timeless question really, the version du jour is – what’s going to happen to important new federal guidelines that ensure insurance plans include coverage of contraception (also known as the latest target in the bishops’ campaign to force their beliefs on the rest of us)? Before the Department of Health and Human Services even released the guidelines this August, detailing which essential preventive services new health insurance plans need to cover, the bishops and their friends were lobbying to keep contraception out. Because if the politically powerful bishops don’t like it, no one can have it. Now they’re waging a campaign to make Swiss cheese out of the guidelines by creating a loophole for all sorts of religiously affiliated organizations that would deny employees comprehensive insurance coverage that includes birth control. Is it working? Continue reading....