As you might already know, there is an ongoing battle between President Barack Obama’s administration and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) over the federal government’s new rule that requires organizations providing health care plans to arrange free coverage for preventive health services, such as birth control and contraception.

Much of this debate has centered on which organizations would be exempt from the rule. The current proposal exempts only churches, meaning religiously affiliated organizations such as hospitals, universities, and charities, would have to comply. However, the government has carved out an exemption for these groups: if they object to the coverage, they can pass the weight of the requirement to insurance companies.

This has not pleased the USCCB, which has lobbied to expand the exemption clause to cover even secular objectors, or else to rescind the mandate altogether. Yet it appears increasingly unlikely the USCCB will get its way — which has Cardinal and USCCB President Timothy Dolan now threatening to halt the church’s social programs in protest:

“If these mandates kick in, we’re going to find ourselves faced with a terribly difficult decision as to whether or not we can continue to operate. … As part of our religion — it’s part of our faith that we feed the hungry, that we educate the kids, that we take care of the sick. We’d have to give it up, because we’re unable to fit the description and the definition of a church given by — guess who — the federal government.”

In other words: the Obama administration is allowing religiously affiliated hospitals, universities, and charities — which provide secular services to the general public, and often receiver taxpayer money — to opt out of a rule mandating free coverage for birth control and contraception (which are legal, safe, and effective), but the Catholic Church might end such programs anyway just to make a point.

Does this remind anyone of the whiny neighborhood kid who, when things don’t go exactly as he wants, takes his ball home and ruins things for everyone?

Advertisements