Obama offers compromise on birth control regulations

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on February 10, 2012 at 6:55 PM

DALLAS - It's a major shift in policy from the Obama administration.

Religious institutions can now choose to opt out of providing birth control to female employees.

President Obama made the announcement of his compromise on the birth control law on television Friday.

"Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventative care that includes contraceptive services, no matter where they work," Obama said. "So that core principle remains. But if the woman's employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection of providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company, not the hospital, not the charity, will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care, free of charge."

That statement has many questioning whether President Obama has protected religious liberty, or played politics.

"I have a lot of concern about that particular point," admits Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas.

"If I'm paying for [the health insurance,] I guess in some ways that means I'm being forced to agree with it, and that is a point that has to be carefully analyzed in these regulations," Farrell said.

Catholics going to Friday mass voiced mixed reactions.

"I do not care," admitted Denise Novy, a Catholic who believes in birth control. "Somebody has to pay for it. We have too many children in the system, too many hungry kids."

"It's not what we believe in, it's not part of our faith," countered Joe Ortiz. "It shouldn't be offered. [...] No matter who's paying for it."

The Texas attorney general also takes issue with the President's birth control compromise.

That office says it is unconstitutional to require religious-based hospitals, clinics and other organizations to offer insurance covering contraceptive products, if it violates their religious beliefs.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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