NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — President Barack Obama is revamping the birth control policy that has divided the nation.

The proposal allows religious employers not to offer the contraception care they object to. Insurance companies will be required to offer care directly to those employees.

The announcement follows an intense backlash and an unusually public war of words with Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan.  The proposal by the White House is seen as an effort to soften the requirement that religious institutions cover birth control for their employees.

“I understand some folks in Washington want to treat this as another political wedge issue. But it shouldn’t be. I certainly never saw it that way,” Obama said. “This is an issue where people of good will on both sides of the debate have been sorting through some very complicated questions.”

Obama hopes that the announcement will be seen as an accommodation to Catholic Church leaders furious that they have been told Catholic institutions like schools and hospitals will have to pay for birth control and “morning after” pills as part of their employee health packages.

“No woman’s health should depend on who she is or where she works or how much money she makes. Every woman should be in control of the decisions that affect her own health, period. We’ve also been mindful that there is another principal at stake here and that’s the principal of religious liberty, an unalienable right that is enshrined in our constitution,” Obama said.

“Religious liberty will be protected and a law that requires free preventative care will not discriminate against women.”

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond On The Story

Catholic groups, though, are livid, calling the president’s move a “ploy” that “adds insult to injury.” You see, it seems many Catholic employers use Catholic insurance carriers. The Catholic League, for example, insures through Christian Brothers Insurance Company, so requiring it to provide free birth control to a female employee is regarded with horror, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

Needless to say, the compromise did little to appease leading Catholic figures like Catholic League President Bill Donohue and Newark Archbishop John Myers.

“Right now I can tell her to fly a kite. Now, under this plan if this were operative I’d be forced to go to Christian Brothers and you don’t even have to pay yourself. I’m going to subsidize your abortion for you. What are they crazy? They think this is going to settle well with Catholics?” Donohue said.

“To pretend that we get something out of this when all you’re doing is a back door technique is insulting and quite frankly, it’s also devious.”

Donohue said he’s been meeting with members of other faiths — Protestants, Jews and Mormons. They see this as a religious war to protect the First Amendment and religious freedom.

“This step doesn’t truly address the religious liberty issues or the conscience protection issues,” said Newark Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness.

New Jersey, New York and Connecticut are among 28 states that mandate all employers provide contraception as part of the health plans offered to employees, but some faith-based organizations refuse to prescribe it.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports

Judy Waxman with the National Women’s Law Center expects that to change.

“What this new law does is it expands the very same obligation to more employers than are covered by the state law,” she told WCBS 880 reporter Marla Diamond.

Steve Sandberg of 1010 WINS spoke with some New Yorkers outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral who had various opinions about the issue, including “Lori,” who said the proposal strikes the necessary balance religious rights and personal freedoms.

“Because the institution gets to hold up their ideals, but ultimately, it’s an individual’s choice,” she said.

“Jill” considers herself a woman of faith, but says her individual rights as a woman trump those of her religion.

“It think women for women’s health deserve the right to have contraceptive needs covered.  It protects them and it’s a basic right — just like it is for men to have other kinds of support,” she said.

Still others are voicing their support for the proposal.

“If you’re anti-abortion, how do you prevent abortion?  With birth control and the Catholic church should be in the forefront of providing birth control for women and to not do that is unconscionable, unethical and anti-women in way that is just so sad,” one woman said.

The proposal also requires the entire cost of birth control to be covered by the insurer.

Obama’s move comes less than 24 hours after sources told CBS 2’s Kramer that Dolan felt betrayed following his meeting with and private assurances from the president on the issue late last year.

“Well, yeah, I’m honest in saying I feel a bit let down,” Dolan told Kramer Thursday. But sources told Kramer the feelings ran deeper than what was being said in public – that Dolan felt betrayed after his November meeting. Sources said the president promised Dolan he would “get most of what he wanted.”

Instead, the administration issued a directive forcing Catholic institutions like schools and hospitals to pay for birth control and the “morning after” pill for their employees. The nation’s 355,000 churches would have been exempt.

What do you make of the possible compromise? Is the White House buckling? Should they? Sound off in our comments section below.

Comments (20)
  1. Terry Vanderkooy says:

    It seems that we should have freedom FROM religion. Hospitals that are supposedly “Catholic” make huge profits. The overwhelming majority of their employees are not nuns and priests, but are instead workers just like every other employer. Most catholic schools employ non-clerics for all sorts of positions in teaching administration and maintenance. The “Church” should be treated like any other employer in this country and should start taking minimal responsibility.

  2. Animals have sex says:

    Seriously? LIke a bunch of animals are NOT going to have babies anymore? REALLY?

  3. Jerry says:

    This PRESIDENT DOES NOT have the authority to force the Catholic church to do ANYTHING and then he realizes that so he is going to force arbitrarily that insurance companies give a product for free to these people?!?! Where does he get this authority!

    The law against murder does not stop people from murdering it is the ENFORCEMENT of the law that stops people from murdering. Only the ENFORCEMENT of the Constitution will stop this president from assuming powers he does not have.

    This country is headed for collapse and here are 7 things every family should have when the economy tanks… thank me later…

  4. Marcel Regensburg says:

    I was born & raised Catholic. I’m in my 60’s. It is time for the Catholic church to be part of this century since they missed the chance during the last century. No disrespect intended. What the church follows is part of an age that has long gone by. LET WOMEN DECIDE WHAT THEY WANT FOR THEIR OWN BODIES so make all sources/venues/medication available. Birth control is not only for birth control. 90% of women use or have used BC. Why should they have to pay?

  5. M.J.M says:

    The church which maintains that a baby is born in original sin
    would not want 100% perfect birth control would they? as they
    would lose guilt ridden potential members ,What the RC must realize
    is that there are also holy non Catholics out there,that go to Catholic
    hospitals as they are the only clinics to choose from that need Rx
    for birth control that will not fail.
    You take federal money you give ALL citizens what they need.
    A Catholic can refuse and have lot’s of kids they cannot afford
    to feed as in most of South America.

  6. Really? says:

    Seriously do they think their staff is not having relations?
    Billions of dollars paid out in abuse lawsuits I don’t think they should any say in a woman’s choice what she does with her body. God gave us ‘free will’ it’s between her and her God. Get real already.

  7. Frank Burns says:

    The clueless are asking “who’s paying for this?”
    –The insurance companies will jump at it, since statistically a woman with contraceptives is a lot less expensive for an insurance company than one without. Think for a moment about it… DUHH!
    Obama comes through again, and shows his Solomonic smarts. Four more years! He deserves reelection if only for reintroducing the word “compromise” to the presidential vocabulary, after it was so sorely missed from 2000-2008, when it was replaced by “swagger.”

  8. Meyer Lansky says:

    I have a compromise offer for the catholic church priests – We will make sure their insurance does not cover the pill, however they have to make a promise they will no longer anally rape little boys in beach bathroom stalls- would they go for that one?

  9. geneofIndy says:

    Clever Obama! How do you take away rights? Over reach and then pull back half way. He is getting exactly what he wants – taxpayers to pay for contraceptives and eventually abortion. Wake up people, even if you aren’t
    religious you are giving up the constitution and bill of rights.

    1. Michael H. says:

      The insurance companies are paying for the contraceptives. Read the article next time. It’s cheaper to provide contraceptives than it is for the insurance companies to pay out on pregnancies and abortions.

      1. @ Michael H. says:

        The insurance companies will be paying for the contraceptives all right – with our raised premiums and co-pays. I believe that a woman if she doesn’t have the insurance coverage should have to pay for it herself. I’m already paying too much for my heath care insurance.

  10. BCE says:

    since when did CBS become ETWN? This should be a secular network. I dont care about Catholics, or their fat, pedophilic designates. Commenters are idiots. THIS IS Seperation of church and state. Catholic hospitals employ people of all faiths and take in tax dollars, it’s not up to them to say whether or not their employees must obey ancient catholic mythological beliefs. We are not in danger of becoming China you hyperbolic ninnies. In this economy noone has the luxury of choosing where they want to work. You make it sound like we hold catholic women down and force them to have abortions. This is about a janitor or hospital assistant who might be a methodist having health care costs covered, making sure insurance companies dont screw them out of benefits. If you choose to hold ancient beliefs you can bury your head in sand all you want, but You WILL NOT force us to obey your ridiculous rules. This is America, land of the free, where options will be available to all. Freedom means you can choose to use them or not, it doesnt mean a small minortiy of poorly educated, overly superstitious people will determine policy based on outdated philosophies they arent smart enough to completly understand. Only religious people have to respect religion, the rest of us will have freedom. Oh and Marriage is a word, you dont own it, you never did. and you wont deny gays their freedoms either. No institution with a 60% failure rate is sacred. Do you people know how ridiculous you look when you try to take yourselves seriously? You’re all a bunch of sad clowns trying to put makeup on everyone around you

    1. Steven Hughes says:

      Aside from being a bigot you don’t know what you are talking about. The clown Obama doesn’t have the authority to change tha Constition. What’s he’s doing is illegal.

  11. Whose really gonna pay says:

    Nothing is free. Don’t kid yourself, we’re going to have to pay in higher premiums and co-pays. The insurance companies will pass the expense on to us. So basically the religious organizations will have it free we’ll be paying for the cost for them to get the coverage for free.

    1. Michael H. says:

      You’re already giving the religious organizations plenty of cash in the form of tax dollars that fund their hospitals and other non-profits, along with their tax exempt status for the churches themselves.

  12. Trisha says:

    The workers are free to pay for their own contraception. Contraception is not banned, it is a fight about who pays. This fascist administration wants the authority to tell everyone what they HAVE to do, or else. In China people are fined for having more children then what’s allowed. Can’t you see this same kind of laws and fines coming out of the Obama and company? Land of the free?

    1. Michael H. says:

      You need to look up the word “fascist” in a dictionary because you apparently don’t know what it means.

  13. Beeman says:

    Prime example of the government, again, overstepping their bounds. What happened to separation of church and state?

  14. DD says:

    If you don’t like the health care they provide, go somewhere else! You choose to be at a religiously affiliated place! There is no compromise. The government needs to keep out of this matter!

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