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Bishop: Doubts mounting over Obama birth control compromise

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A spokesman for the Catholic Church said Thursday morning that leading Catholic organizations who seemed to initially support President Obama’s latest contraception rule are growing increasingly hesitant as they study the changes in detail.

“It is instructive that as time as passed on and there has been further opportunity for analysis, there are questions the Catholic Health Association itself is rightly asking,” said Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., testifying at a House hearing on religious freedom under the Obama administration.

Both the Catholic Health Association and Catholic Charities USA were cautiously supportive when the administration revised the mandate last week to exempt not just churches, but also religiously-affiliated hospitals, charities and schools from covering contraception for their employees.

But they later issued more doubtful statements, saying they were still trying to get answers about how the mandate would apply.

“As time goes on, [Catholic Charities USA] has also recognized there are very serious problems at the level of principle and at the level of practicality,” Bishop Lori said, speaking for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

While the bishops also expressed initial support for the rule, they issued a second statement a few hours later saying the changes still were not acceptable.

Mr. Lori testified with Jewish, Protestant and evangelical leaders before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, where Republican Chairman Darrell Issa and other lawmakers drilled them on a rule released by the Obama administration requiring employers to cover contraception and other preventative services without charging a co-pay or deductible.

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