Catholic groups have vowed to fight the Obama Administration's decision to not allow religiously affiliated employers such as hospitals and universities to deny complete birth control coverage to their female workers, uscatholic.org reported.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, announced on Friday that nonprofit groups that don't offer such coverage because of religious beliefs will be given another year "to adapt to this new rule," the Huffington Post reported.
"This decision was made after very careful consideration, including the important concerns some have raised about religious liberty," Sebelius said in her announcement. "I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services."
But some Catholics are not happy with the new decision they deem unfair.
"This is a shameless attempt to kick the can down the road in an election year," Hannah Smith, senior legal counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, told The Huffington Post. "Religious colleges, universities, and hospitals will never pay for abortion drugs in violation of their religious beliefs -- this year or any other year."
Under the new Affordable Care Act rule, most working women in the United States will have their birth control covered without a co-pay.
Churches and other places of worship are still exempt from having to cover contraception for their workers if they morally object to the practice, Sebelius said in her statement, uscatholic.org reported. All other organizations will be given a year to comply with the new requirement, regardless of their religious beliefs.
"The Catholic bishops are committed to working with our fellow Americans to reform the law and change this unjust regulation," Bishop Timothy Dolan of New York, cardinal designate and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told uscatholic.org. "We will continue to study all the implications of this troubling decision."
President Obama has "drawn an unprecedented line in the sand" with the new rule, Dolan added.
There are only certain religious organizations exempt from the new rule under certain sections of the Internal Revenue Code, uscatholic.org reported. Groups must have "the inculcation of religious values as its purpose," primarily employ people who "share its religious tenets", and be a non-profit.
The United States Council of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA and the Catholic Health Association feel the ruling would allow the government to decide if an organization is "religious enough" to be exempted, according uscatholic.org.
"In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences," Dolan said in a separate statement, according to uscatholic.org. "To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their health care is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty."
"With the existing restrictive definition in this mandate, the ministry of Jesus Christ himself would not be considered a religious entity," Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA said in a statement to uscatholic.org.
"Just as the identity of Catholic Charities is firmly rooted in the teaching of its church, the identity of this nation includes a mandated respect of religious beliefs," Father Snyder added.