The Washington Times - October 12, 2012, 06:02PM

The nation’s Catholic bishops on Friday said Vice President Joseph R. Biden misled the country when he claimed Catholic hospitals won’t have to pay for contraception nor refer women to other places to get it.

In Thursday night’s debate, Mr. Biden, a Catholic, said he accepts his church’s teaching opposing abortion but added it’s not his place to impose it on others. He also said the new health care law won’t push religiously affiliated institutions to offer coverage they disagree with.

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“No religious institution – Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital – none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact,” Mr. Biden said.

But the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Friday that was not, in fact, true.

They said the final rules President Obama and his administration approved contain only a narrow exemption that still leaves Catholic schools and hospitals providing contraceptive care that church teaching says is immoral.

“That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to ‘Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital,’ or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served,” the bishops said.

“HHS has proposed an additional ‘accommodation’ for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as ‘non-exempt.’ That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation ‘to pay for contraception’ and ‘to be a vehicle to get contraception.’ They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients,” the bishops said. “They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied,along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries.”