Catholic leaders are blasting the Obama administration's new decision to require religious organization's health plans to cover workers' contraceptives. Several priests railed against the move from the pulpit at Sunday Mass. "Moral" exemptions for contraceptive coverage in health plans exist for churches and other houses of worship, but the break will not be extended to places like Catholic schools or hospitals, reports the Wall Street Journal. President Obama phoned New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan last week to tell him of the decision. Dolan has called it an "unconscionable" attack on religious freedom.
The decision is dicey for Obama, whose Catholic support helped him win the last election. The issue is likely to be a "backdrop to future relations," said a spokeswoman for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. "It's too big to ignore," she added ominously. "The elephant is tramping around in the sanctuary." Rosa DeLauro, a Catholic congresswoman from Connecticut, supports the administration. "Contraception is about preventing unintended pregnancy," she said. "I think that they did what they needed to do." About 98% of sexually active Catholic women use some kind of contraception, according to the Guttmacher Institute.