The Wall Street Journal and New York Times both report that President Obama may be considering a "compromise" on his mandate that religiously affiliated institutions must cover contraception and abortifacients, and both papers suggest that a compromise under consideration is applying Hawaii's contraception mandate at the federal level. But Richard Doerflinger, a top official at the United States Council of Catholic Bishops, says that in "some ways" the Hawaii model "would be worse." He writes in an email to THE WEEKLY STANDARD:
It's difficult to know what people may mean by the "Hawaii compromise." But a central feature of the Hawaii law is that every religious organization that is eligible for the exemption has to instruct all employees in how they can access all methods of contraception and sterilization locally "in an expeditious manner."
Just a few days ago the White House was saying that this is just about coverage, that no one has to be involved in getting people to the actual services they object to. It would be no improvement to say: "Sure, you don't have to include the coverage, you just have to send all your lay employees and women religious to the local Planned Parenthood clinic." The Administration's press release of January 20 hinted at such a requirement.
That would not be a compromise. In some ways it would be worse.
Doerflinger also discussed the Hawaii law in an interview yesterday with the National Catholic Register:
“I’ve reviewed the Hawaii law, and it’s not much of a compromise,” said Richard Doerflinger of the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities and the bishops’ chief lobbyist on life issues in the nation’s capital. “The Hawaii contraceptive mandate has many of the same features as the new federal mandate.”
Like the federal rule, he said, the Hawaii bill “covers all FDA-approved ‘contraceptives’ (including drugs that can cause an abortion); and the religious exemption is very narrow (though it does not include the requirement that the religious organization serve only people of its own faith to be eligible).
“It adds an extra feature — the requirement that any religious organization that is exempt must still tell all enrollees how they may directly access contraceptive services and supplies in an expeditious manner.”
In other words, the Catholic Church must directly send women to drugs and devices that are morally wrong and can do harm to them.