They defied the bishops to support President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Now Catholic hospitals are dismayed the law may force them to cover birth control free of charge to their employees.
A provision in the law expanded preventive health-care benefits for women, and the administration said last week that must include birth control with no copays. The Catholic Health Association says a proposed conscience exemption is so narrowly written it would apply only to houses of worship. Some other religious-based organizations agree.
“I call this the parish housekeeper exemption – that’s about all it covers,” said Sister Carol Keehan, president of the 600-member umbrella group for Catholic hospitals. “What we are trying to do is make workable the conscience protection the administration says it is willing to give.”