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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan says President Barack Obama hasn’t kept his promise, when it comes to the new White House policy on contraception.
Sources told CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer that Archbishop Dolan feels betrayed after his meeting with the president on the issue late last year.
A Catholic group in Alabama filed the first lawsuit against the Obama administration’s new birth control regulations as the controversy got even more heated Thursday.
LISTEN: WCBS 880′s Rich Lamb reports
The president ducked questions about the contraception controversy that is bedeviling his administration. The reason may be the latest attack from Dolan, who, sources told CBS 2, feels he was stabbed in the back by the president after the two met to discuss the issue.
“He was worried about being at odds with the Church, especially when it came to health care and education and charitable outreach,” Dolan told Kramer.
Kramer: “He made promises to you that he apparently hasn’t kept?”
Dolan: “Well, yeah. I’m honest in saying I feel a bit let down.”
Sources close to Dolan told Kramer that the archbishop felt betrayed after a November meeting with President Obama to discuss the contraception issue. Sources said the president promised Dolan that he would “get most of what he wanted.”
Instead, the administration issued a directive forcing Catholic institutions like schools and hospitals to pay for things like birth control and the morning after pill for their employees. The nation’s 355,000 churches are exempt.
“He assured me my administration wants to work closely with you,” Dolan said.
But that experience has left Dolan leery of any compromises the Obama administration might come up with.
“You would not be surprised that I’m a little skeptical,” Dolan said.
Democrats say it’s not about religion at all, but rather giving women the freedom to make their own choices.
“One million people and their dependents are employees at religiously sponsored hospitals and another 2 million students and workers are at religiously sponsored colleges and universities — far too many women to exclude from crucial health coverage,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney said.
“My colleagues and I stand in solidarity with American women who have waited decades for equity in contraceptive coverage,” said Westchester Rep. Nita Lowey.
“No one is telling the bishops anything about the religious practices of the Catholic church,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler from Manhattan. ”What is at issue here is that the bishops want the ability to impose their religious beliefs on other people, on the employees of religiously affiliated hospitals and universities.”
WATCH: CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer reports
But Republicans in Congress plan to make the birth control provision in the Obama health care law an election year issue.
“This is very straightforward. This is about whether the government of the United States should have the power to go in and tell a faith-based organization that they have to pay for something they teach their members they shouldn’t be doing,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) said Wednesday.
House Speaker John Boehner is already laying out steps to reverse the policy.
“If the president does not reverse the department’s attack on religious freedom, then the Congress acting on behalf of the American people and the Constitution that we’re sworn to uphold, must,” Boehner said Wednesday.
Most health care plans already cover contraception and according to surveys, most Catholic women use it and according to the Center for Disease Control, 99 percent of women will use contraceptives at some point.
“That’s the point of the Affordable Health Care Act, that all Americans will have access to the kind of health care they need,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois).
Obama is standing by the new policy, but said he is looking for ways to compromise, including one option where religious employers would not have to cover birth control so long as they refer employees to an insurer who would provide it.
The new policy is set to take effect in August. The controversy won’t go away until some compromise is reached, and now with the suit being filed some may wait to see if it is upheld or struck down.
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