National/World

Not everyone satisfied with birth control tweak

Saturday, February 11, 2012

American Roman Catholic bishops are expressing grave doubts about President Obama's new health care rule on birth control. They say it continues to involve what they call "needless government intrusion".

Earlier Friday, the president revised the mandate by backing off a requirement that all employers, including those affiliated with religious organizations, provide free birth control coverage even if it's against their beliefs.

"We've been mindful that there's another principle at stake here, and that's the principle of religious liberty," said Obama. "As a citizen and as a Christian, I cherish this right."

The White House seemed taken aback by the firestorm ignited by its original rule. Under it, health insurance policies provided by most employers had to cover birth control. That included religious charities and schools. Catholic bishops protested.

Hours before the president spoke Friday, Chicago's Cardinal Francis George, "We cannot, we will not comply with this unjust law. people of faith cannot be made second class citizens because of their religious beliefs."

The solution announced is simple: religious-based institutions will not have to provide free birth control to employees, but their health insurance companies will be required to do so.

"Women who work at these institutions will have access to free contraceptives so this is just like other women," said Obama.

Not everyone is satisfied.

"The basic heart of the compromise is an accounting gimmick where religious groups are still forced to buy insurance and the insurance companies that they pay are forced to give contraception and abortifacient drugs to their employees," said Luke Goodrich/Lead Counsel, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Meanwhile, the Chicago archdiocese tells ABC7 that Cardinal George still wants his letter on the subject to be read at all Masses this weekend.

There is still a question about how the contraceptive services will be funded. Several major insurers say they are reserving judgment because they need to study the changes.

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