BIRTH CONTROL coverage splits Catholics again

CHILDREN DRESSED IN TRADITIONAL BAVARIAN GARB DANCE FOR POPE BENEDICT ON 85TH BIRTHDAYTwo prominent Catholic groups are finding themselves, once again, on opposite sides of a key issue regarding the Affordable Care Act.

Three years ago, the Catholic Health Association, whose members run hospitals and nursing homes across the country, backed passage of the health law. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which represents the hierarchy of the church, opposed it.

Now the groups are divided over the law’s requirement for most employer-based health insurance plans to provide women with birth control.

Both groups say things are different this time around.

Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the , said that the administration’s wasn’t what her organization would have preferred. “But it was a solution that we could make work, because it allows our members not to have to buy, contract for, refer or arrange for contraceptive services,” she says.

Under the rule, churches and other houses of worship are exempt. Women who work for Catholic or other religious hospitals, universities and social service agencies will still get the no-cost birth control. But the religious entity won’t have to be involved in providing it. An insurance company or insurance administrator will instead.

But while that’s good enough for Keehan, it’s not cutting it with the . Last week it hosted what it called a “religious liberty press conference” with representatives of several other faith groups to decry the rules.

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore read from the to Congress and the administration urging the rules be overturned. “We stand united in protest to this mandate, recognizing the encroachment on the conscience of our fellow citizens,” he said.


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