75° F
Mostly Cloudy
Mostly Cloudy

Catholic Church Bristles At Birth Control Mandate

Published On: Jan 31 2012 10:06:31 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 01 2012 03:18:13 AM CST

The Roman Catholic Church is bristling at a new rule about birth control.

Under the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act, companies that provide insurance for employees must cover contraceptives, including faith-based employers.

The decision came from Washington, after what White House press secretary Jay Carney called Tuesday "careful consideration."

The administration chose not to change the provision for faith-based organizations in an effort to give women who work for Catholic hospitals and schools access to "preventative services."

"I think it's fair to say that, while there are those who take issue with the decision, millions and millions of Americans, American women, will have access to preventive services, as they should, appropriately through the health care reform bill," Carney said.

Diocese of Madison Bishop Robert Morlino is speaking out against the rule.

Parishioners in Madison heard a message from Morlino in church Sunday asking them to write letters, make calls and do whatever they could to denounce the Obama administration's rule.

Supporters of the policy said it just gives everyone the same equal opportunity when it comes to insurance coverage.

"And doesn't that sound fair? But it couldn't be fair because it completely ignores the fundamental right to religious liberty which people have," Morlino said. "If it's us this time, it will be somebody else the next time."

Morlino said that, for Catholics, being ordered to endorse and pay for contraceptives stands in the way of God's grace.

"That means that our salvation is at stake," Morlino said.

Morlino said he believes the First Amendment will ultimately be on the Catholic Church's side.

"Once the precedent is taken, that religious liberty can be violated and suppressed, then it's open season," Morlino said.

In some cases though, Morlino's own parishioners said they don't agree. Mariann Fredal said she not only objects to the Catholic Church's stance on the issue but also hearing her priest read a letter from the bishop at Sunday mass, which is something she said she hasn't heard on other issues such as capital punishment and torture.

"The Church has chosen not to discuss that in church, not to bring that up, not to ask people to rally around and send letters and act, so that offends me also," Fredal said.

Fredal said she speaks for many who disagree with the bishop and the Church's very public stance on a thorny legal and religious issue.

"Many, many theologians, many, many church historians and experts feel that contraception is not a violation of God's law," she said. "I firmly believe that those decisions need to be made by the women."

Morlino said his letter to parishioners was not unique. He said every bishop in the country has or will share a similar message with their communities.

The Obama administration has given Catholic schools and hospitals a year before they have to implement anything.

SSM Health Care, which owns St. Mary's Hospital in Madison, issued a statement Tuesday saying it's "disappointed with the contraceptive mandate in the rule, as it will force organizations like ours to go against our conscience and the explicit teachings of the Roman Catholic Church."

  • Kenneth Bae, Matthew Miller, Jeffrey Fowle


    Who are 3 Americans detained in North Korea?

    Matthew Todd Miller, a 24-year-old from California, has been convicted of "acts hostile" to North Korea and sentenced to six years of hard labor. Learn more about the three Americans currently being detained in North Korea.

  • iOS 8

    From Apple

    Best new Apple iOS 8 features

    Apple's iOS 8 is here, and it's packed with slick new features. Take a look at some of the best changes to the latest version of the popular mobile operating system.

  • Testing for Ebola

    REUTERS/Misha Hussain

    Common myths about Ebola

    At least eight Ebola aid workers and journalists were reportedly murdered in a remote village in Guinea in a brutal example of growing distrust locals have of foreigners coming to help stem the mushrooming health crisis. Take a look at common myths about the deadly virus.


    Events calendar

    Looking for something to do? Visit Channel 3000's events section featuring dining, food, music and family-friendly events throughout Madison and the surrounding area.

  • Get your weather app and WISC-TV3 deliver local forecasts, live radar, school closings and alerts for Madison and South Central Wisconsin to iOS or Android devices.

  • Learn more about WISC-TV

    Meet the News 3 staff, learn about our newscasts, search our job postings and find out how to contact us.