January 21, 2012
Most church-affiliated organizations will be required to offer their workers coverage of birth control as part of their health plans, the Obama administration announced Friday, but they can get more time than other employers to comply.
The decision came as a bitter disappointment to organizations ranging from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to the National Association of Evangelicals, which had lobbied hard for a broad exemption for employers that oppose birth control on religious grounds.
“This is nothing less than a direct attack on religion and First Amendment rights,” said Franciscan Sister Jane Marie Klein, head of a system of 13 Catholic hospitals in Indiana and Illinois.
The rule, which was first announced last summer and which has drawn more than 200,000 comments, requires private insurance not merely to include birth control, but to do so without out-of-pocket charges. It will take effect beginning Aug. 1, as plans renew.