Reporting Mary Bubala
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Catholic leaders are outraged. New federal health care mandates say religious organizations must include birth control coverage in their health plans. But the leader of Baltimore Catholics says that will never happen.
Mary Bubala has the story.
The Catholic Church says the mandate violates its First Amendment right to religious freedom.
Under the Affordable Care Act, companies must cover contraceptives and that includes faith-based organizations.
In a letter to parishioners across Baltimore, Cardinal Designate Edwin O’Brien says, “We cannot, we will not comply with this unjust law.”
“This isn’t something we can compromise on because it’s fundamental to our teachings, and we have to be consistent. We are talking not just about contraception, it’s about drugs that induce abortion,” said Archdiocese spokesperson Sean Caine.
Caine says despite strong wording in O’Brien’s letter stating, “We Catholics will be compelled either to violate our consciences or to drop health coverage for our employees,” the Archdiocese has an obligation to provide some kind of health insurance.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore has about 3,500 employees that would be affected by this, including school teachers and people who work at nonprofits.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore could fight the new law by filing a lawsuit. But for now, area churchgoers are reacting to the controversy.
“People should be given the freedom to choose as to what they want to do,” said one.
“I am not agreeing with it at all,” said another.
The birth control mandate is not in effect yet. It starts in August. But both sides believe there will be a compromise from the Obama administration in the coming months.