The stage is set for the Obama administration to wield a second blow to liberals still in shock over HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ decision yesterday to block the sale of the morning-after pill to minors and children without a prescription.

Either that or Obama will force religious groups into civil disobedience.

It’s an ideological crisis of Obama’s own making. In August HHS announced it would force insurance companies to cover birth control pills and emergency contraceptives as part of Obamacare. There was a religious exemption, but it was “so stingy as to be nearly meaningless,” wrote University of Notre Dame Law Professor Richard Garnett in USA Today.

Missions organizations as well as religious charities, universities, and hospitals were excluded from the exemption.

Today Politico reports:

Both sides are sure to watch the final ruling closely, but the stakes may be even higher now with the administration’s allies. That’s because HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the FDA on Wednesday and declared that teenage girls won’t be able to get the morning-after pill over the counter.

The decision was a big disappointment to Democratic lawmakers and abortion-rights groups….

Now, Obama has been brought into the discussions about whether to broaden the contraceptive coverage exemption under the health care law. Reproductive rights advocates have heard from the White House that Sebelius has briefed him on the issue, and they’re expecting a decision any day….

This decision may be especially tricky for Obama, because he may need constituencies on both sides of this issue in order to win reelection.

If Obama rules in favor of religious freedom, the other side will howl, but basically they’re stuck with Obama. They’ll have to get over it.

But if Obama rules against religious freedom, there will be dramatic implications, including more court challenges to Obamacare and even civil disobedience, which was just promised by one Catholic bishop. According to December 1:

Bishop Robert Lynch, leader of nearly a half-million Tampa Bay Catholics, surprised two dozen judges and 300 lawyers Wednesday by promising to thwart the federal health care law. It was a departure from his traditional homilies on the virtues of judicial wisdom.

If draft regulations aren’t changed, Lynch said, the Diocese of St. Petersburg will no longer provide health insurance for its 2,300 employees.

Instead, he said, diocesan employees would be paid a cash sum and told to find their own insurance. The health care law, expected to be in full force by 2014, allows that.

“I’m extremely uncomfortable with even thinking of such a thing,” Lynch said, speaking at the noon Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in downtown Tampa.

But he said the church is at a “moment of history” in which it must take a stand for “religious liberty and individual moral conscience.”…

Bankruptcy lawyer Scott Lilly said he found fascinating the bishop’s advocacy of civil disobedience. The sermon was delivered just blocks away from Occupy Tampa.

“It’s a sign of the times,” Lilly said. “We are on the verge of civil disobedience. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have said that was possible.”…

TampaBay Catholic Lawyers Guild… president Karl Stevens said Bishop Lynch never before issued such a blunt message. “But he’s always been a ‘call-them-as-I-see-them’ kind of guy, and the bishop really believes the time has come.”

Yes, it has.

[Photo of Bishop Lynch via EWTN]

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