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Catholic Bishops: Obama's Contraception Mandate Change 'Unacceptable

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

After initially saying the changes to President Barack Obama's contraception mandate were a good "first step," the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said late Friday they have "serious objections" to the new policy and that it remained "unacceptable," CNS News reported.

Under Obama's alteration, religious-affiliated employers may refrain from paying for contraceptive coverage themselves, but their insurers are still obligated to provide the coverage for free -- a change that still raises "serious moral concerns," the bishops said in a statement.

“It would still mandate that all insurers must include coverage for the objectionable services in all the policies they would write,” the bishops said. “At this point, it would appear that self-insuring religious employers, and religious insurance companies, are not exempt from this mandate...the lack of clear protection for key stakeholders...is unacceptable and must be corrected."

The bishops said they also object to the plan's retention of the "nationwide mandate of insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacients."

"This is both unsupported in the law and remains a grave moral concern. We cannot fail to reiterate this, even as so many would focus exclusively on the question of religious liberty," the statement said.

Saying the proposal "continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions," the bishops vowed to "continue—with no less vigor, no less sense of urgency—our efforts to correct this problem."

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