Health Team

US bishops reserve judgment on birth control rule

Posted February 10, 2012

— The head of the nation's Roman Catholic bishops says it's too soon to tell whether the Obama administration's revamped rule on birth control will address the church's objections.

But Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan on Friday called a revised birth control mandate a good first step toward addressing religious liberty concerns.

President Barack Obama said he is backing off a new requirement for religious employers to provide free birth control coverage, even if it runs counter to their religious beliefs. Instead, health insurance companies would be required to reach out to female employees of those institutions to offer free contraception directly to them.

Birth control, contraceptives Birth-control plan still questioned by some

Dolan said the bishops will reserve judgment until details are released, noting that bishops still believe federal legislation is needed to protect religious freedom.

Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Diocese of Raleigh said he thinks Obama's initial policy, which was rolled out three weeks ago, wasn't well thought out, even though it gave religious-affiliated schools, hospitals and charities an extra year to comply with the federal law.

"This is a very serious issue that brings us to the heart of religious liberty and freedom," said Burbidge, who leads the Catholic church in the eastern half of North Carolina.

Like many bishops, he said he also has questions about the compromise Obama announced.

"Who is paying for that?" he said of the contraceptives. "It seems to me there still could be significant concern that, in an indirect way, our original concern could exist."

Dr. Katie Barrett, chairwoman of the obstetrics and gynecology department at Rex Women's Health in Raleigh, said she thinks Obama's compromise is a good one. Finances shouldn't affect access to birth control, she said.

"It's going to not force people to do something that they don't believe in, but also going to make it available to the majority of women, who may not have those same beliefs," Barrett said.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Sumo Vita Feb 14, 2012

    I am a Catholic. And I think our bishop is more keen on pandering to the right-wing moneyed interests to pay for his precious $90 million Cathedral - little more than an edifice to himself - than in any real faith concerns.

  • seankelly15 Feb 10, 2012

    mep - "you choose not to see all the good they do."

    If they truly did good I would applaud it. The good that they do is self serving.

    As to your solution that a woman simply change employers to get the MEDICATION that they might need I can only hope that you never need a medication or a procedure not covered by your insurance... I suspect your opinion would be quite different... self-serving.. .just like religion.

  • affirmativediversity Feb 10, 2012

    And, then there is your narrow understanding of the use of oral contraceptives. It is not used exclusively for birth control.., there ARE ACTUAL MEDICAL CONDITIONS where oral contraceptives are prescribed. And, there are women whose health could be severely compromised due to pregnancy. per seankelly15


    Well then put up or shut me ONE women who has been denied access to birth control...whether for contraception or not.

    You can't because SHE DOESN'T it is NOW and has been FOR DECADES...birth control in its various methods has been READILY AVAILABLE in MILLIONS OF VENUES TO EVERY WOMAN...


    You can't actually believe that the GUYS at the INSURANCE COMPANIES are going to make EVERY METHOD AVAILABLE ALL THE TIME UNDER EVERY PLAN...Nope, that's not how this is going to work...let's not kid ourselves...WOMEN WILL BE TO TOLD WHAT THEY CAN HAVE

  • vraptor Feb 10, 2012

    can i force my religion on you - Catholicism??? why not??? this order is forcing your religion on me. your religion of abortion on demand. this has nothing to do with the catholic church. it has to do with the freedom of religion and freedom from religion from the gov. 1st amendment.

    if you want to abort your kind away. go ahead. just don't ask me to pay for it or approve it.

  • juncyard v2 Feb 10, 2012

    "Anyone from the "left" want to explain why you Libs bitterly attack Christians while at the same time defend Muslim extremists?"

    I don't bitterly attack anyone, I just call people out on their hypocritical ways....I support any christian or muslims right to do whatever they want, as long as what they want doesn't impede anyone else's rights...

  • mep Feb 10, 2012

    mep - Actually they have...

    No... they haven't.

  • Hubris Feb 10, 2012


    That's just the kind of hyper-partisan, shallow thinking, sheeple attitudes that got us in the situation that we are in. Great advice. Not!

  • mep Feb 10, 2012


    They have been so busy pushing radical social issues, they missed out fixing the economy, creating jobs, reducing the deficit, saving the housing industry.....

  • juncyard v2 Feb 10, 2012

    People think that because they pay taxes...anything paid for must be something they approve of....

    Its funny....

    I didn't agree with the RBC center being built...they did that anyway....

    I didn't agree with invading IRAQ....they did that anyway....

    There are tax payers that support this issue....I guess your rights are more important then theirs?...

    I don't care for abortions, but it's none of my business either...

    Zealots should learn the difference....

  • seankelly15 Feb 10, 2012

    Num8Volvo - Jefferson? Seriously dude? Have you ever read Jefferson? Jefferson hated religion... we are not even sure that he wasn't an atheist. Jefferson would be arguing my position but doing it so much better than me,