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Nation's Bishops, Others Voice Objections To Birth Control Rule

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Not everyone is pleased with President Obama's revamped health care rule on birth control.

The new policy would not require religious institutions to provide free contraception for their employees. Instead, their health insurance providers would have to offer birth control directly to the employees for free.

"No woman's health should depend on who she is or where she works or how much money she makes. Every woman should be in control of the decisions that affect her own health, period. We've also been mindful that there is another principal at stake here and that's the principal of religious liberty, an unalienable right that is enshrined in our Constitution," Obama said Friday.

The announcement came after an intense backlash and an unusually public war of words with Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, but some Catholic groups say the president's compromise is just not good enough.

"This step doesn't truly address the religious liberty issues or the conscious protection issues," Newark Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness said Friday.

In a statement issued Friday evening, the United States Conference of Bishops said Obama's proposal "continues to involve needless government intrusion in the internal governance of religious institutions.''

"These changes require careful moral analysis, and moreover, appear subject to some measure of change. But we note at the outset that the lack of clear protection for key stakeholders—for self-insured religious employers; for religious and secular for-profit employers; for secular non-profit employers; for religious insurers; and for individuals—is unacceptable and must be corrected. And in the case where the employee and insurer agree to add the objectionable coverage, that coverage is still provided as a part of the objecting employer's plan, financed in the same way as the rest of the coverage offered by the objecting employer. This, too, raises serious moral concerns," the United States Conference of Bishops said in the statement.

EXTRA: Read The Full Statement

The statement came hours after Obama announced he was backing off a new requirement for religious employers to provide free birth control coverage.

Almost immediately, Democrats who had disagreed with the White House backed the revised policy. So did Sister Carol Keehan, president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States and a crucial player in both this debate and the fierce fight over Obama's health care overhaul law.

"The Catholic Health Association is very pleased with the White House announcement that a resolution has been reached that protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions. The framework developed has responded to the issues we identified that needed to be fixed," Keehan said in a statement.

The White House is vehemently rejecting any characterization that President Barack Obama retreated under pressure.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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