Dolan urges Obama to back down on birth control

UPDATED 10:05 a.m. ET

The head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Thursday urged President Obama to reverse his administration's decision requiring all employers to provide birth control as part of their health plans. There is an exemption for churches and other houses of worship, but the rule includes hospitals and schools affiliated with religious organizations.

"This was a terribly misguided judgement," Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York said in an interview on "CBS This Morning."

Dolan, who is set to become a cardinal later this month, said he met with Obama in the Oval Office late last year and was promised the White House would work with the Catholic church on a number of issues, including education, healthcare and charitable work.

"I am hoping that this massive negative reaction to this ruling, I am hoping that he will go back to those assurances that he gave me," Dolan said.

Dolan said Mr. Obama called him on January 20 to inform him of his decision.

"I expressed to him sincerely my disappointment and my disapproval," Dolan said.

The White House is under intense pressure from both sides for its ruling, which tweaks a 2000 law mandating that employers cannot discriminate against men and women for their health care coverage.

Religious groups say the rule infringes on their religious liberty, while many women's rights groups are asking the president to hold firm.

House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday said that if the White House did not back down from its decision, the House of Representatives would take up legislation forcing it to do so.

"This attack by the federal government on religious freedom in our country cannot stand, and will not stand," Boehner said in a rare address from the well of the House of Representatives.

If the House did pass such legislation, it is not clear whether it would pass the Senate, where a number of women lawmakers have praised the White House move.

"I am dumbfounded that in the year 2012 we still are fighting about birth control," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York

"It is sad that we have to stand here yet again to fight back against another overreach and intrusion on women's lives," said Gillibrand, a Catholic. "The power to decide whether or not to use contraception lies with a woman, not her boss."

Dolan is in the midst of a full offensive against the policy. On Wednesday, he said "the federal government should do what it's traditionally done since July 4, 1776, namely back out of intruding into the internal life of a church."

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