Proposal: Religious groups can opt-out of contraceptive coverage - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Proposal: Religious groups can opt-out of contraceptive coverage

MADISON (WKOW) -- The Obama Administration is proposing a new regulation that would separate religious groups and health insurance that covers birth control for their employees.

The announcement follows backlash from President Obama's decision to make employers -- including religiously affiliated ones -- provide coverage for contraceptives. 

The new regulation would allow employees at non-profit religious organizations, like hospitals and universities, to seek coverage though an individual insurance policy or third party.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney took questions about the proposed change Friday. "I would remind you, however, of the policy that the President outlined last year. And in outlining, he said two important criteria. Number one, we had to ensure that women have access to preventive services, like contraception, and that the policy also respects religious beliefs," Carney said. Carney says he believes this new regulation meets those guidelines.

It's still not clear whether religious leaders will accept the proposal. St. Mary's Hospital sent WKOW a statement from their corporate office in response to the decision:

"In response to last year's rule on women's preventive services, SSM Health Care and other Catholic organizations expressed concerns with and asked for changes to the contraceptive coverage section of the rule. The Obama administration has issued a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in an attempt to address these concerns. Given that the new rule is 70-plus pages, we will need time to analyze its many details before we are able to offer our assessment and provide comment."
 
                                                            -Michael Panicola, Ph.D.
                                                            Senior Vice President, Mission and Organizational Ethics
                                                            SSM Health Care

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