RUSH: This from the New York Times, and it's from March 16. That's Friday. "The Obama administration took another step on Friday to enforce a federal mandate for health insurance coverage of contraceptives, announcing how the new requirement would apply to the many Roman Catholic hospitals, universities and social service agencies that insure themselves," and that, folks, was the news. The mandate has been expanded to cover self-insured religious groups now. The story is, up until now, that when Obama first mandated that the Catholic Church and its universities and other schools provide contraception, Obama backed down.
Remember members of the church protested? Obama supposedly backed off and said, "Okay, okay. We'll transfer the mandate to insurance companies," and I remember pointing out: "Well, he doesn't have the constitutional authority to do that, either. We're talking the First Amendment, religious freedom. Obama does not have the Constitutional authority to mandate that anybody provide contraceptives or anything else free of charge. He doesn't have the authority." But after he backed off (publicly, anyway) in mandating that the Catholic Church do it and pass it on to the insurance companies, there were stories: "Hey, did you see that? We beat Obama back! Obama changed tune."
I pointed out that he didn't change tune. He just shifted the blame and the responsibility. Well, what happened on Friday is Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, dropped the other shoe. What this "clarification" is... and the headline of the New York Times story is: "US Clarifies Policy on Birth Control for Religious Groups." What this "clarification" actually is: an expansion of the Obama mandate. The first mandate that got everybody up in arms (chuckles), you remember it well. The first mandate only required religious groups that buy commercial insurance to provide contraception. But with what they announced on Friday, self-insured religious groups have to provide birth control and morning-after pills.
So Obama did not back off.
He is still mandating that religious organizations, religious groups who buy health insurance or who self-insure (either one, now) provide contraception. So the headline of this story should be: "Obama Mandates Pill for Self-Insured Churches." He expanded the mandate on Friday. It's in the New York Times late in the afternoon when nobody's paying attention, plus you've got March Madness going on. There are a number of other things that are occupying people's minds, all kinds of diversions from what Obama doesn't want you paying attention to. So contrary to what you might be thinking that Obama backed off and that the religious organizations beat it back? No. It's even worse than originally proposed. The mandate was expanded so that churches who self-insure themselves...
Think about that: They provide their own insurance; they have now been mandated to provide contraception pills, morning-after pills, abortifacients, all this.
So the mandate has been expanded.
That was the news from Friday.
And it's from a very happy New York Times, by the way, as they report the story.